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The Denver County Clerk and Recorder office is preparing to open at midnight May 1 to begin issuing civil union licenses to Colorado same-sex couples, Out Front has confirmed.

Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson said her office has been coordinating with the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group One Colorado to make the new relationship recognition status available to gay and lesbian couples in the city.

Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson

Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson

“I’m excited to be a part of this,” Johnson said. “Denver has always been on the forefront of (gay rights) and we need to stay there.”

On Tuesday, the Colorado House of Representatives passed the Colorado Civil Union Act. Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill into law next week. The new law will go into effect May 1.

One Colorado is planning a “Civil Soiree” fundraiser to celebrate the passage the bill at the¬†McNichols Event Center in Civic Center Park to proceed Johnson opening her office’s doors.

The fundraiser is for the organization’s education fund.

Details on how long the clerk’s office will be open after midnight and how many licenses they’ll be able to issue immediately are still being worked out.

Johnson’s office deferred most of the details to One Colorado.

One Colorado’s Development Director Preston Dickey said the fundraising event at McNichols will end at 11:30 p.m. and licenses will be issued by Johnson’s office on a first come first serve basis.

He said One Colorado is coordinating to have clergy available to officiate the licenses that will need to be returned to the clerk’s office to be recorded within 35 days.

Johnson said her office will be releasing more information about which documents her office will need to release licenses in the coming days.

The clerk’s office said it’s working to control costs, but that the extra hours and security will be paid for out of its budget, but no extra tax dollars will be spent to pay for the extended hours.

“I wouldn’t have offered to open early if I couldn’t have afforded it,” Johnson said.

Johnson said her office similarly offers extended services on Valentine’s Day to heterosexual couples.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect Preston Dickey’s title at One Colorado. He is the organization’s development director. This article has also been updated to better reflect the fundraiser is for One Colorado’s education fund, a 501 C 3 nonprofit, not its political arm, a 501 C 4.