Time may be right for gay couples’ rights
Jeff Smith and Roger Egli have spent hundreds of dollars trying to get the same legal protections married couples have for free.
Smith and Egli, both Vail residents, have been a couple for eight years. They have documents that say one will be able to inherit the other’s belongings. They have documents that will allow one to visit the other in the hospital.
“We try to review things with our attorneys on an annual basis,” Smith said. “Yeah, we like to think that everything is all in order, but you just don’t know until it’s put to the test.”
That small worry is just one of the reasons Smith hopes Colorado voters will approve Referendum I this November. If approved, same-sex couples will be able to automatically receive many of the rights heterosexual domestic partners already receive – the right to inherit each other property in the case of death and to visit each other in the hospital, to name a few.
Supporters of Referendum I are quick to say that same-sex couples still will not be able to get married if the referendum passes. That’s fine by Smith, anyway.
“Marriage is usually defined by the church, but I don’t care what the church thinks,” he said. “I don’t want marriage. I just want the rights and responsibilities of a committed relationship.”
Referendum I is listed on a ballot that also includes Amendment 43, which would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Colorado voters essentially will have the chance to give same-sex couples more rights and take away the chance of additional rights at the same time.
Smith worries that having both questions on the ballot could work against supporters of gay and lesbian rights. Even though Referendum I won’t change the definition of marriage, voters may believe it does, Smith said.
Troy Alexander believes the time has come to extend more rights to gays and lesbians. Adults under the age of 35 are supportive of gay and lesbian rights and someday will be lawmakers. Gays and lesbians are “not invisible anymore. Most people I even remotely know have to know a gay person,” said Alexander, a part-time Vail resident.
Alexander believes he should be able to marry his longtime partner, Justin Hildreth. Still, Referendum I isn’t a bad compromise, he said. If it passes, Alexander, who is self-employed will be able to be on his partner’s health insurance.
“I recognize that calling it to marriage, (some) just can’t get past that,” Alexander said. “I have some friends who are a lot more hard-core about the cause than I am; they really want it to be called marriage. But most rational people can recognize that it may not be exactly what you want, but at least it’s something.” VT
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