Imagine spending 30 years committed to one person, who suddenly falls ill.
As your partner lies in an ICU bed with failing kidneys, you must wait in the lobby. The hospital may not let you see him or her.
Imagine that after days waiting, he or she dies. You didn’t get to say goodbye.
The hospital will not allow you to arrange for your loved one’s body to be sent to the mortuary, and you won’t be consulted for the funeral arrangements either.
Though you shared a home with this person, he or she does not have a will, and you will not inherit anything. In fact, some of the assets you acquired together are now considered to be his or hers. The law says that the ownership of non-titled items are owned by the first person who dies. His or her family presses the issue, and you learn that you won’t be able to keep the furniture in your home.
Sound unfair? It is.
Under current Colorado law, committed same-sex couples are wrongly denied basic rights, including hospital visitation and the ability to make funeral arrangements or end-of-life decisions for each other.
The passage of Referendum I would correct this gap in the law, while keeping same-sex marriage illegal.
Marriage in Colorado is defined as a union between one man and one woman. Referendum I wouldn’t change that provision and wouldn’t interfere with placing the definition of marriage in the Colorado Constitution if Amendment 43 passes, as it should.
Ref. I would create a license for adult, same-sex, domestic partners, but it wouldn’t allow gay or lesbian couples to file joint tax returns or allow a surviving partner to collect Social Security benefits.
The measure would, however, protect the children of same-sex couples. Because there is no co-adoption under Colorado law, only one parent in a gay or lesbian couple is the legal parent of an adopted child. If Ref. I passes, both people in a domestic partnership would have fiscal and medical responsibility for their children.
Finally, Ref. I doesn’t pass moral judgement on homosexuality and it won’t, as the opponents say, harm society “by sending confusing messages about gender and family.”
Ref. I acknowledges that committed same-sex couples exist and that certain parts of the law inadequately address their basic needs.
Colorado should correct this inequity by voting for Ref. I and should protect marriage by also voting for Amendment 43.