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Six same-sex couples file federal challenge to Colo. gay marriage ban

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
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The six couples who filed a federal lawsuit seeking to end the ban on same-sex marriages in Colorado hold a news conference in Denver on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

DENVER — Six same-sex couples from across Colorado filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The suit is the third such challenge to Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban, but the first to be filed in federal court.

The case cites last week’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that upheld a District Court ruling striking down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban. The ruling was the first time a federal appeals court said same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, although the ruling was put on hold pending a likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Along with Utah, Colorado is one of six states under the jurisdiction of the Tenth Circuit; the others are Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The Tenth Circuit is also expected to soon issue a ruling on Oklahoma’s marriage ban.

The Colorado suit asserts the 14th Amendment “protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws,” a quote taken from last week’s Tenth Circuit decision. “A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

The suit is seeking to have legal same-sex marriages performed out-of-state recognized by the state of Colorado, as well as the right of same-sex couples to marry in Colorado.

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The plaintiffs are asking for an injunction stopping all officials from enforcing Colorado’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 2006.

Although some of the couples in the lawsuit have civil unions in Colorado, the lawsuit calls them unequal and an inadequate substitute to marriage.

Last month, a state District court judge heard arguments in lawsuits filed by one couple in Adams County and eight same-sex couples in Denver who are seeking to be recognized as married couples in Colorado.

Judge C. Scott Crabtree said he would issue a written decision soon, but noted that his ruling will likely be appealed all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The federal challenge is Burns v. Hickenlooper.

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