DENVER — State Senator Pat Steadman, D-Denver, sponsor of Colorado’s same-sex civil unions law passed last year, has introduced a bill (SB 19) that would allow same-sex couples married in the eyes of the federal government to file joint state tax returns.
“The bill does two things,” said Steadman. “It changes last year’s civil unions law to remove the prohibition against civil union partners filling joint returns… And it removes language from the state income tax law that talks about married couples or makes reference to husbands and wives. Basically, it makes the language gender neutral.”
The bill, advanced by the Senate Finance Committee today, means a lot to same sex couples in Colorado.
“[It would take] an important step in providing all of Colorado’s families with the protections they need to take care of each other,” said One Colorado Executive Director Dave Montez in a statement. “That includes Coloradans like the couple who testified in support today, who were nearly in tears as they spoke about what this bill means to their family.”
Steadman said the bill is a logical and practical response to the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act this summer. Last session, in pushing passage of civil unions, Steadman allowed the prohibition on same-sex tax returns to be written into the law because it reflected a similar exclusion at the federal level, he said. Now that the IRS recognizes same-sex couples, he said, it’s time to bring Colorado’s tax law up to speed, so that married same-sex couples can enjoy their federally recognized status at the state level as well.
Steadman says he doesn’t see the bill as a formal step toward marriage equality. It’s a clarification of our civil union state’s current “way station” situation.
“We’re not recognizing your marriage,” he said. “We’re recognizing the manner in which you file your federal tax returns.”
[Photo by Anne Meador]