Nine gay couples living in Colorado filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court Wednesday seeking to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
The complaint, obtained by Denver's KDVR, names Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and Denver City Clerk Debra Johnson as defendants. It argues that Colorado's same-sex marriage ban violates the equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
Colorado law creates two classes of citizens: those free to marry the person they love, and those denied that fundamental right. Same-sex couples in Colorado are relegated to a second-class level of citizenship that denies their relationships the full panoply of rights enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples. Even same-sex couples who have been validly married in other states are stripped of their marital status when they enter the state of Colorado. This denial of equal protection, due process, and basic fairness violates the Constitution of the United States of America.
Plaintiffs bring this action to challenge the constitutionality of Colorado's laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and that refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples lawfully entered into in other jurisdictions.
All of the couples currently live in Colorado; however, four of the plaintiffs were married in other states. The plaintiffs argue that the state's law circumscribes an individual's basic life choices, denies gay couples the benefits of legal marriage, prevents couples from "making a legally binding commitment to one another equal to the commitment made by opposite-sex couples," and "harms society by burdening and disrupting committed families and preventing same-sex couples from being able to fully protect and assume responsibility for one another and their children."
Colorado's LGBT advocacy community cheered on the lawsuit.
“Just like thousands of other loving, committed couples across Colorado, the courageous plaintiffs who brought forth today’s case simply want to take care of their families and make a lifelong promise to the person they love," said Dave Montez, executive director of LGBT rights group One Colorado.
Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, also praised the suit.
“As the country progresses, Colorado’s marriage ban increasingly places our state at a competitive and moral disadvantage. We recognize the courage and resolve of these couples and their attorneys as they pursue, through the courts, the freedom to marry that all Coloradans deserve," Woodliff-Stanley said.
Colorado legalized same-sex civil unions in 2013, with the first couples being granted a civil union last May, but same-sex marriage was banned in the state in 2006.
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