Colorado Enacts Designated Beneficiary Act

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

April 9th, 2009

The Human Rights Campaign is reporting that HB 1260 Designated Beneficiary Act has been signed by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.

The new law, which will take effect on July 1, will permit any two people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – to enter into designated beneficiary agreements that confer specific legal rights and responsibilities, including the right to receive state employee pension benefits, the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner, and the right to inherit if a partner dies without a will.

These rights will undoubtedly benefit sets of individuals, including same-sex couples, and for them I am appreciative. The opposition to this bill derided it as “marriage light” and clearly objected to the fact that it would make the lives of gay people easier.

However, I find reciprocal beneficiary plans troubling.

I believe that there is a benefit to society for intertwining romantic relationships and social obligations and that such relationships are not comparable to roommates or poker buddies. And one core purpose of reciprocal beneficiaries is to make darn sure that those eligible for them know that their relationships are legally devoid of love and romance. You may have some selected rights – but only as a set of individuals, not as a family.

And, looking at Hawaii as an illustration, it seems that providing for some few rights to any designated beneficiaries can create a legal limbo from which it is difficult to emerge.

In California and other states, couples were recognized first. They became families. And then succeeding legislatures could argue over exactly which benefits should be denied some families based solely on the gender of those comprising them. Over time, it became obvious that denial of specific benefits to same-sex couples that were granted to opposite-sex couples seemed based on arbitrary distinctions or bigotry and gradually the state benefits and obligations granted became identical.

In Hawaii, however, there are no same-sex couples – only individual persons who have some reciprocal benefits. And it is easy to argue that there should be benefits granted to couples that are denied to roommates; surely we would not grant joint custody or apply community property, for example.

So it’s not surprising that rather than a gradually increasing bundle of rights and obligations, over time Hawaii has actually removed benefits leaving them of little value. Which may well be why less than a tenth of one percent of Hawaiians even bothered to sign up.

But having “granted rights to those who can’t marry”, the otherwise liberal legislature of Hawaii feels content denying marriage rights to same-sex couples.

I do see this as an improvement for Coloradans; and likely this will not be the stopping point. So I am celebratory of this victory – especially for those who now will find their lives easier.

But it’s a very minor celebration.


April 9th, 2009

I will gladly add this to the victory list of the last 7 days. I believe it wont be long before the voters overturn the Hate amendment here in Colorado. which won by 55% to 45%.

For being a majority Red State 2004, to flipping the State government to Blue in 2006, adding to it in 2008, Colorado has come along way in a short time.

Donald Baxter

April 10th, 2009

I’d like to see the states out of the marriage business entirely and while I’m from Iowa (City), and gay and am celebrating my state’s victory for equal marriage, what I really want is the state to sanction domestic partnerships totally separate from the institution of marriage. Those partnerships should be permitted as a legal means to provide benefits and inheritancy to anyone. Want to marry? Find a church. Just leave the government out of the business of solemnizing relationships


April 10th, 2009

Every time I see the “I want the state out of the marriage business” canard I wonder is it really to “solve” the problem or is it to punish the religious?

Now then I remember when CA made marraige legal and they changed the from to Partner A Partner B and people had a hissy fit and sued. While I rolled my eyes at the idea, I saw people gloat, people where genuinely happy that people where upset. It showed how important these words where to the the subconscious, they expected more empathy from these people. Of course the prop 8 campaign used that partner A partner B as just another way to show how gays wanted to take marriage away from all the “good” people in the world.

Taking the government out of the “Marriage” business is pointless. Every law on the books going back to our founding talks of the civil partnership as marriage. You’d have to pass thousands of legal amendments to put all the laws in line with this “decisions” and for what gain? So we can give them the word marriage to the religious as their own special gift? To prove to the religious that the secularist’s real goal is take their marriage away from them? To as gay people sacrifice our place in society? To prove what they knew all along gays where lesser people who didn’t deserve the word marriage?

The truth is the government isn’t in the religious marriage business. They never wanted to get into that particular game. They just chose to recognize the unions that where formed in their country and for convince sake used the standard word for partnership and applied it to laws. Trust me, a civil marriage has no religious component in the eyes of the government, if it did common law marriage would/could never have even formed. I’ve officiated over 4 marriages just by filling out a form and paying some money, as to the religiousness of those four weddings one was a Discordian wedding where we served hot dogs without buns and called on Eris to bless the couple, one was a steam punk wedding where I was dressed as Marie Curie and one was a vampire wedding. Yeah some real powerful religious mojo there. Meanwhile those marriages are just as recognized by the government as my parent’s marriage which was conducted in a catholic church.

No we don’t need to get the government out of the marriage business, especially if we still want them to recognize unions in some form or another. We have to establish to the government and the people that the word marraige is just that a word, a word that has been used for a few hundred years to describe a close union between two things. It is not a sacred right, the church made a sacred right to join people and just like the government they took the most convenient word around which was marraige. Consider in Spanish the word they chose was “To shack up.”

Why do we make this so hard? When used by the government, it is a legal concept, the union of two people under the law, when used by the church it is the product of their sacred right of joining two people. When used by many in the literary world it is the joining of two objects,The marraige blood and steel, poetry and art, form and function.

I’ve always joked of the idea of “taking it back” when applied to language. But seriously I think this is a case where we need to “take the word marriage back.” It was not the sole providence of religious people or religious institution, it belong to society, it is a word that belongs to all of us, it is a part of the human condition and until someone can invent a better word that holds all the meanings of marraige to both the conscious and subconscious I do not wish to willing relinquish my ownership of the word as a human being. Not to punish a group of people, not to make this argument easier to win, not to make it easier to get along with immature religious people who can’t learn how to share.

Sorry for the rant and potential derail, but I’ve seen this concept too much and all really this is the core of the “civil union” or “Partner benefits” argument.


April 10th, 2009

It’s ironic that the more people try to “protect” marriage by inventing all of these “like marriage” institutions that AREN’T marriage the more they create institutions that aren’t marriage that straight people are opting for and hence weakening and breaking down the significance of heterosexual marriage.

How interesting that the fight to “protect” marriage, and those who are doing everything in their power to keep gay people from participating in it, are the very things, and the very people, that most threaten to actually destroy it.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.