As of Wednesday morning, at midnight, same-sex couples in Colorado were finally allowed to get a civil union — and, more importantly, to get that union recognized by the state. These are just some of the hundreds of happy couples from Denver and beyond.  

Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 11, the Colorado Civil Unions Act, on March 21, making Colorado the sixth state to legalize civil unions and granting committed same-sex couples legal protections and responsibilities. It's progress for a socially volatile state which, seven years ago, saw its voters approve a ban on gay marriage in the state's constitution. Also in 1992, Coloradans approved Amendment 2, a law that would have prohibited gays and lesbians from being a protected class — until it was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1996.

But this is a different Colorado (gun control legislation and marijuana legalization have passed in the last six months) and a different America (the Supreme Court is expected to rule on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act in a month, and public support for gay marriage has never been higher). And there were nothing but smiles overnight in the Centennial State, with some couples lining up at 2 p.m. — 10 hours before the law went into effect — to be the first in line to celebrate this step toward equality. Here's ABC Denver's coverage, followed by photos:

Colleen Mentz (L) and Jeanne Fischetti (R) show us what waiting looks like...

...as do couples Jeffrey Maybee and Chris Richardson, and Breanna Alexander and Stacy Parrish: 

Tanya Obernyer (L) and Chris Richardson had a little fun waiting for the clock to strike midnight: 

Fran and Anna Simon probably kept their 5-year-old son Jeffrey up past his bedtime for this historic night — indeed, they were the first couple to receive a civil union license in Denver.

That's Denver Mayor Michael Hancock presiding over a civil unions vow ceremony: 

And another happy couple sealing their civil union with a kiss: