Colorado couple seeks to overturn state ban on same-sex marriage

Colorado couple seeks to overturn state ban on same-sex marriage

Seal of Colorado

[JURIST] A Colorado same-sex couple filed a lawsuit Wednesday in the Adams County District Court [official website] after they were denied a marriage license from the Adams County Clerk’s office in Colorado. The couple, Rebecca Brinkman and Margaret Burd, argues [News 7 report] that Colorado’s civil union statute [text, PDF] violates the Fourteenth Amendment [text] by denying same-gender couples the same rights as hetero-couples. Under Colorado’s civil union statute, same-sex couples are denied federal benefits afforded to married couples.

In March Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper [official website] signed [JURIST report] the Colorado Civil Union Act [text, PDF], which will allow civil unions for same-sex couples in the state. The legislation explicitly provides same-sex couples with many of the benefits held by married couples, including dependent insurance coverage and the ability to adopt a partner’s child. Issues surrounding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] remain controversial throughout the US, despite a two recent US Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage. In US v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report] the Court overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text]. The ruling did not create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but it entitles couples in lawfully recognized same-sex marriages to certain federal benefits. In Hollingsworth v. Perry [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] the court ruled that the petitioners lacked standing to appeal the district court’s order striking down Proposition 8 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive], California’s same-sex marriage ban. Legal scholars argue [JURIST commentary] that the recent decisions will open the door to increased litigation due to the rulings’ effects on federal and state law.