As Thursday's one-year anniversary of legalized civil unions draws near, the number of licenses issued by Boulder County has quickly plummeted from triple digits last May to a mere handful each month.

Boulder County handed out 123 licenses at its three county offices in May 2013, but the next month's total was just 17. Since September, each month has seen fewer than 10 civil union licenses issued by county offices, and the monthly total since November has been a half-dozen or less.

January, which is not usually a big month for traditional marriages, either, saw just three civil union licenses issued.

Statistics for April are not yet available, but the county total for the first 11 months stands at 205.

"The reality is that people are going out of state and getting marriages," said Mardi Moore, executive director of Out Boulder, an LGBTQ advocacy group, "because if you're married in another state you have more rights."

Noting that civil unions grant couples far fewer rights than those afforded by marriage, Moore said, "I think that because of the way the courts and the federal governments are moving forward, that people are thinking about marriage in other states."

A year of civil unions in Boulder County

May: Boulder, 97, Longmont, 15, Louisville/Lafayette, 11. Total: 123

June: Boulder, 11, Longmont, 2, Louisville/Lafayette, 4. Total: 17

July: Boulder, 12, Longmont, 1, Louisville/Lafayette, 0. Total: 13

August: Boulder, 11, Longmont, 2, Louisville/Lafayette, 1. Total: 14

September: Boulder, 6, Longmont, 0, Louisville/Lafayette, 2. Total: 8

October: Boulder, 6, Longmont, 1, Louisville/Lafayette, 0. Total: 7

November: Boulder, 1, Longmont, 3, Louisville/Lafayette, 1. Total: 5

December: Boulder, 2, Longmont, 2, Louisville/Lafayette, 1. Total: 5

January: Boulder, 2, Longmont, 0, Louisville/Lafayette, 1. Total: 3

February: Boulder, 4, Longmont, 2, Louisville/Lafayette, 0. Total: 6

March: Boulder, 3, Longmont, 0, Louisville/Lafayette: 1. Total: 4

April: N/A

11-month total: 205

Source: Boulder County clerk and recorder



If you go

What: First anniversary of Colorado civil unions celebration, sponsored by Out Boulder

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: 2501 Lexington St., Lafayette

Cost: $15 (free for those in a civil union)

More info: Space limited, RSVP to OutBoulder.Org. Phone: 303-499-5777

Jodi and Jenny Martin run the Martin Law Office in Boulder, which handles estate planning, probate and family planning with a special focus on issues facing the LGBTQ community. They were the last of 53 couples to obtain a civil union license in a special midnight session offered by the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office last May 1.

The same-sex union landscape has changed considerably even since that snowy night in Boulder.

A 'less-than' solution

Less than two months after legal civil unions took effect in Colorado, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 opinion striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted the definition of "spouse" to heterosexual unions.

The same day, the Supreme Court, also in a 5-4 decision, dismissed an appeal by proponents of California's Proposition 8 — a ballot measure which had banned gay marriages in that state — thereby leaving in place a district court's ruling overturning that ban.

Jodi Martin said she believes that many Coloradans who are in same-sex relationships now see civil unions as a status that is a "less-than" solution. And it's one that not many are anxious to opt for, at a time when 17 states and the District of Columbia offer legal same-sex marriage, including New Mexico, Colorado's immediate neighbor to the south. Those entering into a legal marriage in another state are automatically granted civil union status in Colorado.

Still, Martin said, "There are a lot of people in the community that for financial or personal reasons can't go out of state" to marry. "There are also couples who say, 'We live in Colorado, so when we get married, we want to have our marriage in Colorado.'

"There's even folks I know who have gone out of state and then come back, and now when you come back to Colorado there is almost a feeling of your relationship being converted down, or downgraded, because you are not technically recognized as married," Martin said.

'We are ready for the next step'

Another local couple obtaining their civil union license last May 1 was Amanda Lewis and Fiona Martin, of Boulder.

Lewis said Tuesday that she and Martin are tracking the progress of a lawsuit filed Feb. 18 in Denver District Court by nine same-sex couples challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriages resulting from Colorado's Amendment 43, passed by voters in 2006. Additionally, Lewis took note of a new Quinnipiac University poll showing Coloradans now approving of same-sex marriage by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio, 61 to 33 percent.

"It's been interesting," Lewis said of the year since she and Martin obtained their civil union. "We still can't file (taxes) jointly. We still don't have a lot of the benefits that you get from legal marriage at the federal level. ... What are we, exactly? It is such a gray area. We are ready for the next step."

A party marking the one-year anniversary is being hosted by Out Boulder from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the home of former Boulder County attorney Larry Hoyt and his husband, Bryan Russell, 2501 Lexington St. in Lafayette. Refreshments will be offered. It is free for those in a civil union, and others are asked to pay $15.

Those planning to attend should RSVP through Out Boulder at outboulder.org.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Charlie Brennan at 303-473-1327 or brennanc@dailycamera.com.