Colo. couple sues state to overturn ban on same-sex marriage

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A Colorado couple files a lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

They claim an amendment to Colorado’s constitution recognizing only unions “between one man and one woman” violates the U.S. constitution.

“Ooh, you’re scary,” says Rebecca Brinkman to a group of trick-or-treaters outside her Thornton home.

It’s not those things that go bump in the night that has Brinkman and partner Margaret Burd a little on edge. It’s what they did Wednesday—the first in Colorado.

“You don’t know how things are going to turn out, or how they’re going to go. It’s a little scary,” says Brinkman.

The couple of more than three decades filed this lawsuit against the Adams County Clerk and Recorder,  Karen Long, after she denied them a marriage license Wednesday.

“She immediately told us about civil unions. We told her we’re not interested in a civil union, we told her we wanted to get married,” says Burd.

They’re challenging the legality of Colorado’s constitution that only recognizes marriage between heterosexual couples.

“In this day and time, we need to celebrate and nurture people who love each other. We’ve been committed for 34 years. It’s just a matter of the dignity of marriage. We love each other,” says Brinkman.

“It is separate, but it is not equal,” says attorney Anne Wilcox.

The couple’s lawyers say the state constitution violates the 14th Amendment of equal protection, despite state lawmakers voting in civil unions in March.

“We really appreciate what they did for civil unions, but they are just not the same,” says Brinkman.

They say civil unions are a lesser status than marriage—which enjoys a long history of dignity, respect and recognition—one the U.S. Supreme Court says is a fundamental right essential to our civilization.

“How can you deprive one group of people a fundamental right, simply based on their preference in a partner? Asks attorney Thomas Russell.

It’s a question Rebecca and Margaret pose to the courts. And they hope the answer is as sweet as the candy they hand out.

“We’re going to feel really joyful,” says Burd.

They hope to have an answer from the district court by next summer. But they say it could take another 18 months if the case is appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

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