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Supreme Court Case Could Complicate Colorado’s Civil Unions Law

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Gov. John Hickenlooper gives Colorado  House Speaker Mark Ferrandino a high five after signing the civil unions bill into law in March. (credit: CBS)

Gov. John Hickenlooper gives Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino a high five after signing the civil unions bill into law in March. (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – This week the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether two laws banning same sex marriage are legal. It comes less than a week after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a civil unions bill in Colorado.

Same sex marriage advocates have been critical of state Democrats pressing for civil unions so quickly. They’ll have political control for at least the next two years, but in just over two months one of their signature measures could be seen as harmful to the people that once championed it.

“There is no excuse that people should have all the same rights,” Hickenlooper said when signing the bill into law.

It was history in the making. Thursday’s signing of Colorado’s civil rights bill came just eight years after voters outlawed gay marriage.

“Our family has been vulnerable and this represents really important progress for the protections of our family,” a gay woman said after the signing.

But some supporters of gay marriage say Colorado acted too soon. Kris Miccio is an openly gay law professor at the University of Denver. She says the Supreme Court’s review of gay marriage could mean Colorado made a mistake with the bill.

“I think it’s more complicated for the state of Colorado because of the fact that the civil union bill makes it very, very clear throughout the bill … ‘this isn’t marriage, this isn’t marriage.’ That has to be a very long stretch on the part of the Supreme Court,” Miccio said.

RELATED: Gay Marriage: GOP Ready to Cry Uncle and Cash In?

The Supreme Court will focus on California’s Proposition 8 and whether voters can block gay marriage. On Wednesday the court will review the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Miccio says a broad definition by the court could force Colorado to repeal its new civil unions bill because it creates two separate and unequal classes of citizens

“The feeling I have about this is you don’t leave civil rights, and marriage is a fundamental right; you don’t leave that to the will of the majority so that they have the right to say who falls under the ambit of equal protection,” Miccio said.

Across the country gay rights marches are calling for the court to repeal the measures blocking gay marriage. Lines at the high court formed last week.

The Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8 will be decided in June. Colorado’s civil unions bill will be into effect May 1.

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