This Is What Colorado's First Same-Sex Civil Unions Look Like

Alexander Abad-Santos
This Is What Colorado's First Same-Sex Civil Unions Look Like

As of Wednesday morning, at midnight, same-sex couples in Colorado were finally allowed to get a civil union — and, more importantly, to get that union recognized by the state. These are just some of the hundreds of happy couples from Denver and beyond.  

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Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 11, the Colorado Civil Unions Act, on March 21, making Colorado the sixth state to legalize civil unions and granting committed same-sex couples legal protections and responsibilities. It's progress for a socially volatile state which, seven years ago, saw its voters approve a ban on gay marriage in the state's constitution. Also in 1992, Coloradans approved Amendment 2, a law that would have prohibited gays and lesbians from being a protected class — until it was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1996.

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But this is a different Colorado (gun control legislation and marijuana legalization have passed in the last six months) and a different America (the Supreme Court is expected to rule on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act in a month, and public support for gay marriage has never been higher). And there were nothing but smiles overnight in the Centennial State, with some couples lining up at 2 p.m. — 10 hours before the law went into effect — to be the first in line to celebrate this step toward equality. Here's ABC Denver's coverage, followed by photos:

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Colleen Mentz (L) and Jeanne Fischetti (R) show us what waiting looks like...

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Tanya Obernyer (L) and Chris Richardson had a little fun waiting for the clock to strike midnight: 

Fran and Anna Simon probably kept their 5-year-old son Jeffrey up past his bedtime for this historic night — indeed, they were the first couple to receive a civil union license in Denver.

That's Denver Mayor Michael Hancock presiding over a civil unions vow ceremony: 

And another happy couple sealing their civil union with a kiss: