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Summary of the 2012 Civil Unions Testimony Process

By Mike Maday

Below is Mike Maday’s summary of the testimony process followed by his full testimony that was entered into the legislative record.

The Civil Unions bill would have directly linked civil unions with Colorado dissolution law, thereby enabling couples in civil unions to have the protection of Colorado courts in pre and post decree dissolution matters, including court referral and access to mediation.

My testimony in support of the bill was included with that of former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, the President of the Colorado League of Women Voters, the Anti-Defamation League and immediately following Elizabeth Bryant representing the Colorado Bar Association. Expert testimony was supplemented with personal stories of significant difficulties gay Colorado families have experienced with current Colorado law as they try to achieve basic security in their family relationships including rights of survivorship, medical and end of life decision making and care for their children. Testimony against the bill was provided by several organizations including the Archdiocese of Denver, Focus on the Family and the El Paso County Republican party. My testimony got four Tweets from the political reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette, who got theMAC’s name right.

Testimony Regarding the Mediation Association of Colorado
Support for SB12-02, Civil Unions
Presented by Michael J. Maday, MSW
Chair, Legislative Committee, the Mediation Association of Colorado
May 14, 2012

    •    The Mediation Association of Colorado Board of Directors has endorsed the Civil Unions legislation because Civil Unions will bring into the light of day, and the protection of the law, relationships not well addressed by Colorado law.  theMAC represents professional mediators across the State of Colorado, mediating the entire range of civil disputes. Many of our members mediate pre and post decree marital dissolution cases. Many of our members, including myself, have mediated cases through small claims courts or protection orders and property claims in County and District court that are in reality the break up of relationships that will be covered by this civil union statute.  The problem is that these cases come to mediation in a haphazard and inconsistent manner, addressing only a very small percentage of these cases.  Because Colorado law doesn’t appropriately address these cases they are often settled informally between the parties, resulting in one party being taken advantage of by the other. They sometimes escalate into domestic violence cases, requiring law enforcement and criminal court involvement.  And in other cases the relationship between a psychological parent and a child may be inappropriately severed, resulting in emotional damage to the parent and child.  Parents avoid child support and health insurance obligations resulting in costs to Colorado taxpayers in terms of Medicaid, welfare and food stamp qualification for their children. ?

    •    Our support of this legislation furthers theMAC mission to “promote the use and understanding of mediation” in Colorado.  theMAC strives to make quality dispute resolution services, including mediation, available to all Coloradans. This is consistent with legislation passed unanimously by the 2012 Colorado General Assembly supporting the use of productive forms of conflict resolution, including mediation, to resolve conflicts. This Bill will allow dissolution of civil union cases to be referred to mediation in the same manner as dissolution of marriage cases.   

    •    Our support of this legislation does not constitute support of gay marriage.  This Bill specifically defines civil unions as not being marriage and civil unions will apply to both gay and straight couples.