El Paso County civil unions top 100

By: Jesse paul jesse.paul@gazette.com
June 6, 2013 Updated: June 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm

It's not just same sex couples that are celebrating the Colorado Civil Union Act in El Paso County - businesses are reaping the benefits too.

Charles Irwin, executive director of Colorado Springs Pride, says his local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization has fielded roughly a dozen calls from out-of-staters, including Texans and Utahns, looking to tie the legal knot right here in the Pikes Peak region.

"It's the beginning of a lot of changes and it's a good piece," Irwin said. "It's not all the way there because it's not marriage equality, but it does give some protections for committed loving families."

While the number of civil union applications processed by the county clerk's office hasn't stayed on pace with the 36 same sex couples tied who obtained licenses May 1 when the act went in effect, 104 couples had applied for a license by Thursday. In May, 100 couples visited one of the four designated sites in the county and paid the $30 fee to become lawful partners.

Statewide, couples have been utilizing civil unions at differing rates. In Pueblo County, 33 civil unions have been filed since May 1 and 25 licenses were issued in Douglas County.

"It was a big month," said Nancy Reubert, spokeswoman for the Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office which handled 327 civil unions in May. In that same period, 562 licenses were submitted.

A 2011 study published by The Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles estimated that the economic stimulus of influence of a civil union act could funnel millions of dollars into the state.

"Using the best data available, we estimate that a law recognizing civil unions for same-?sex and different-?sex partners will garner the state $4.8 million over the three years following the law's implementation," the study said. Could same-sex couples help the local economy?

Colorado Springs Pride has worked with local businesses to compile a list of LGBT-friendly stores that are now providing lodging, food and even marriage rings for same-sex couples from near and far.

"We've always serviced same-sex couples just as we have always serviced [heterosexual] couples," said L'aura Mitchell, who co-owns Lane Mitchell Jewelers downtown, one of the businesses listed on Colorado Springs Pride's business listings. "As far as economic impact, we haven't seen anything significant at this point, but we believe there is great potential there because the community is becoming more visible and more accepted. It's a growing demographic in the region."

Contact Jesse Paul 719-636-0253 Twitter: @JesseAPaul

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