Colorado prepares for its midnight coming out party

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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With much of the world’s attention on NBA star Jason Collins’s milestone of being the first openly gay professional team sports athlete, gay couples in Colorado are preparing for a milestone of their own.

Scores of gay and lesbian couples will brave a forecasted late-spring snowstorm to be joined in civil unions at midnight Wednesday, as Colorado becomes the 15th state to offer either legally binding civil unions or same-sex marriages.

Despite a partisan showdown last year that led to a special session of the legislature and the ultimate scuttling of a civil union bill, the measure sailed through the Democratic-dominated capitol barely noticed this year, at least compared to more contentious bills like gun control and legal marijuana.

The bill was sponsored by openly gay legislators and praised by the likes of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, whose late brother was gay.

Hancock will preside over one of several midnight celebrations in which couples will receive civil union licenses. Clerk and recorders offices in Denver, Boulder and other communities are planning to be open into the early morning hours.

Several churches throughout the state are also hosting midnight union ceremonies.

“At midnight May 1, our great state will bring down some of the senseless walls that have divided us and state in one voice: ‘Everyone matters,’” Hancock is quoted as saying in the Denver Post.

Couples in civil unions will be able to adopt children, make medical and end-of-life care decisions for their spouses, carry them on their health insurance and receive other benefits that are similar to those available in traditional marriages.

Despite the similarities, though, civil unions are not marriages. Voters in 2006 amended the state constitution defining marriage — including common law marriage — as only between a man and a woman.

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