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Mar 14, 2013 9:25 AM by Maddie Garrett

Gay Rights Activists: Civil Unions Step Forward, Not Equal Yet

It was seven years ago Colorado voters banned gay marriage, and now civil unions are becoming law. Gay rights activists are calling it a step toward equality, however there are still distinct lines between civil unions and marriage.

"We had our own wedding in 2010, so at that point we were just kind of hanging out and waiting for everything else to catch up," said Dara Hoffman.

Hoffman is a lesbian, and for six years she's spent her life with Lauren Fox. For the last three, they've called each other wife.

"We made that emotional commitment several years ago," said Fox. "This is just a re-confirmation of our commitment to each other."

Hoffman and Fox are getting a civil union license on May 1, 2013, the first day it will be legal. For them, it's a historic day for Colorado.

"I've seen, especially some of the older folks who have been fighting for it for so long, in tears and sobbing with joy just over how far we've come," said Hoffman.

Same sex couples might go to the same place to get their civil union license as they would a marriage license, but those two pieces of paper still mean two different things.

Civil unions do grant many of the same rights as marriage, such as property transfer, legal claims, health insurance, unemployment, adoption and survivor benefits.

But federally, they don't have the same rights, such as filing joint income tax and federal benefits, including social security.

"Anything that has to do with the federal government, we still can't do anything about that, it's still a second class citizenship. So again, very excited, but it's a move forward in the right direction, we're not there yet," explained Hoffman.

Fox, Hoffman and their two daughters are already a family. But soon they'll have a piece of paper to prove it.

"For them it validates that, yes, we are a family, a regular old family like everybody else," said Fox.

They say if and when gay marriage is legalized, they'll have another anniversary and get married too.

Governor Hickenlooper is expected to sign the Civil Union Bill into law soon. Then any couple, gay or straight, can enter into a civil union through the county clerk's office starting May 1, 2013.

 

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