Nearly 70 percent of Coloradans support some sort of legal recognition for gay couples, but more favor marriage over civil unions.
A Denver Post poll shows 36 support marriage while 32 percent favor civil unions. Another 27 percent oppose legal recognition of any sort, and 6 percent were unsure.
Voters 65 and older are the most likely to oppose legal recognition - 31 percent. But that same age group gave largest support to civil unions - 46 percent.
Included in that group was 72-year-old Ludvik Svoboda of Aurora, who backs civil unions but not marriage.
"To me, marriage is wrapped around the idea of a man and a woman," he said, but he added that there should be protections for couples who are devoted to each other.
The poll also showed that voters 34 or younger are the most likely to support marriage - 40 percent.
But Colorado does not allow gays to marry because of a 2006 ballot measure that amended the constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
For two straight years, a bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions has passed the Democratic-controlled Senate but died in the Republican-controlled House. The bill's death in May after one of the most dramatic nights in legislative history attracted national attention.
"It was pretty sad," said Sonja Semion of Denver, who has been with her partner for almost seven years. "We were absolutely crushed.
"But the tide is shifting across the country in recognizing families like mine."
Brad Clark, director of One Colorado, Colorado's largest gay-rights group, said attitudes have shifted dramatically in the last couple of years.
"Some of it can be attributed to openly gay folks on television, but I think more people are coming out in the workplace, in schools and in the community and that is really changing things," he said. "That's why the support is so bipartisan."
David Altman, 49, of Aurora, was part of the 27 percent who said he opposes legal recognition of any kind.
"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and civil unions are no different than marriage," he said.
Altman said same-sex couples already can fill out forms for power of attorney for medical decision, inheritance and such.
Civil unions offer some of the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, but only on a state level.
The poll of 695 likely voters was conducted by New Jersey-based Survey USA on Sunday and Wednesday and it reached voters via both land lines and cellphones. The survey sample was 34 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat and 27 percent unaffiliated - based on how people identified themselves to the pollster.