Great things happening in Colorado: legislation creating legal recognition and protection for couples (regardless of gender) was approved yesterday and is expected to be signed by the governor. It is so important that while there is so much controversy in regards to the subject of religion and gay marriage, that marriage is very much a legal matter and everyone should have these rights. Here’s a great article by Patrick Malone for USA Today: Colorado civil unionsA measure allowing civil unions for same-sex couples is headed to the governor’s desk, where it’s expected to be signed. Legislation creating legal recognition and protections for couples regardless of gender in Colorado gained final approval Tuesday in the state Legislature. Last year a similar bill on civil unions for gay couples with support from a handful of GOP representatives appeared poised to pass before leaders in the Republican-controlled House blocked it. In November, Democrats regained control of the House and designated Mark Ferrandino of Denver as Colorado’s first openly gay House speaker. Ferrandino sponsored civil unions legislation that failed each of the past two years and this year’s successful version of the bill. “It’s about love. It’s about family. It’s about equality,” he said. Once the measure is signed, Colorado will join a dozen other states that have civil unions or similar laws. The incarnation of the bill that passed does not include religious exemptions for adoption organizations that last year’s proposal contained. Opponents seized on that change and said they foresee legal challenges in court to that aspect of the legislation. The bill passed 39-26 with each Democrat and two Republicans supporting it. “The time has come,” said Rep. Joann Ginal, a Fort Collins, Colo., Democrat who is openly gay. “Please support equality for everyone.” Rep. Cheri Gerou, a Republican from Evergreen, Colo., was one of the Republicans who voted in favor of the bill. She said the GOP missed its chance for compromise on religious exemptions when it blocked the civil unions vote last year. The bill’s approval marks a significant political shift in a western state that traditionally has had deep, conservative roots but has become more moderate in the past decade. Colorado voters banned gay marriage seven years ago. That means civil unions are the only option in the state, but a U.S. Supreme ruling on gay marriage laws could change that. Among the default rights that civil unions will extend to gay couples under Colorado law would be medical decisions for partners, hospital and jail visitation privileges, property succession rights through inheritance, joint adoption and provisions for dissolution of a relationship, including division of property and shared responsibility for and visitation of children. Contributing: The Associated Press