Civil unions will be formally recognized in Colorado beginning Wednesday, which is shaping up to be the biggest celebration of love many of us have seen this side of Valentine's Day.
In Denver, the Clerk and Recorder's office will begin issuing licenses at 12:01 a.m., and Mayor Michael Hancock is expected to be on hand to preside over ceremonies.
We expect hundreds — if not thousands — of loving couples across the state will take advantage of the law giving them additional rights when it comes to inheriting property, adopting children, taking out insurance or making medical decisions for their partner.
For too many couples and the family and friends who love them, it is a day that has been a long time coming and is one that is deserving of celebration.
But we maintain that the fight for equality is not complete until governments officially recognize gay marriage.
Progress on the issue has gained steam in the seven years since Coloradans passed an amendment that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman and defeated a separate initiative that would have legalized civil unions.
In 2009, the legislature authorized Designated Beneficiary Agreements, which granted limited rights and protections to same-sex adult couples. And, after a two-year fight in a divided legislature, Democrats retook the House and were able to pass the civil unions legislation earlier this year. Senate Bill 11 was signed into law in March.
But, barring developments at the U.S. Supreme Court or in Congress, same-sex couples will still not be accorded the same rights as married couples in the eyes of the federal government — notably Social Security survivor benefits and taxes on income and estates.
That must change.
According to a recent Pew Center report, the U.S. marriage rate is at an all-time low, down to 51 percent among adults from more than 70 percent 50 years ago.
Fewer Americans are getting married, yet we prohibit marriage for many who yearn to join the institution.
Something's not right with that picture.
As many couples commit to each other in civil unions in coming days, we should all keep in mind that many would go further — and that many others are simply waiting for their opportunity to marry.