Marriage equality lawsuit argues that civil unions are "second-class and unequal"

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Photos, video and more below.
Last spring, after years of hard-fought legislative battles, civil unions became legal in Colorado. But now, a complaint filed on behalf of nine gay couples describes such bonds as "second-class and unequal," and calls on a Denver District Court judge to declare that state edicts preventing same-sex marriage violate the plaintiffs' rights "under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United State Constitution."

Details, photos, video and the lawsuit itself below.

The suit's introduction to the public wasn't smooth. On Monday, publicist Bob Weiss, representing the law firm of Reilly Pozner, issued a press release noting that at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, a press conference would be held at which "nine Colorado couples, four of whom are legally married, will explain recent events that...led them to file a precedent-setting civil rights lawsuit against the State of Colorado."

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Larry Pozner of Reilly Pozner.
Then, a few hours later, Weiss sent out a second blast noting that the press conference had been canceled. In a response to an e-mail from Westword requesting more information, Weiss wrote, "Will keep you in loop but nothing happening now."

That changed on Wednesday afternoon, when Weiss e-mailed a copy of the suit along with this message: "No public statement will be made nor interviews granted by either the lawyers handling the case or the plaintiffs."

This shift in course is especially curious given that one of the plaintiffs, University of Denver professor Kris Miccio, has been especially vocal about the marriage equality issue. Last March, before the civil unions law took effect (and a few months prior to tying the knot in New York with her beloved, Nan McDaniel), Miccio went on something of a media tour to declare that she was in the planning stages of a lawsuit.

At one stop, she told 9News, "For me, civil unions is codified second-class citizenship. When my daughter hears that this isn't a real family and her mommies aren't real mommies and that her mommies can't get married, when she was younger, she feels less than. And that's not healthy for children."

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Kris Miccio.
This time around, however, the Miccios and their fellow plaintiffs (Sandra Abbott and Amy Smart, Wendy and Michelle Alfredsen, Kevin and Kyle Bemis, Tommy Craig and Joshua Wells, James Davis and Christopher Massey, Sara Knickerbocker and Jessica Ryann Peyton, Jodi Lupien and Kathleen Porter, and Tracey MacDermott and Heather Shockey) are letting their lawsuit do the talking.

We've included the entire document here, but this passage from its introduction sets out the basic claims:

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.... Colorado's refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry within the state, as well as its refusal to recognize the validity of out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples violates multiple guarantees of the United States Constitution. Colorado's recognition instead of second-class and unequal relationship recognition through civil unions does not cure these violations. Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court declare Colorado's prohibition of same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize valid out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples unconstitutional and issue an injunction requiring defendants (a) to issue marriage licenses to the unmarried plaintiffs, and (b) to recognize the existing marriages of the plaintiffs lawfully married in other states.

Continue for more about the marriage equality lawsuit, including the document and a video.

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23 comments
Alexander J Armijo
Alexander J Armijo

There should only be civil unions recognized by the government for all people, let the.religious institutions decide what they recognize as a marriage while giving equal rights to everybody. Keep religion out of government, keep government out of religion.

Donald Nowery
Donald Nowery

Sorry, Marriage is between Man and woman and that's that! Civil unions is the best thing for the others,sorry that's the way I look at it!

Kendra Bell
Kendra Bell

People need to realize that their religious views are not shared by everyone. It's none of your business if a man wants to marry a man or a woman a woman. Oh the hypocrisy of so-called "Christians".

Kendra Bell
Kendra Bell

I think the government needs to let people live their damn lives the way they please.

Andrew Newman
Andrew Newman

I just can't conceive that it's an issue that a class of fellow citizens doesn't have the same rights I'm entitled to, and some people don't think that's problematic and to be remedied.

Andrew Newman
Andrew Newman

By which we assume you mean those who don't love their neighbor equally created in God's image as themselves, right? Or is the liberty and justice for ALL part you disagree with?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

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James Gold
James Gold

Clearly, that's the way it's making people with civil unions feel, so I guess the answer would be yes. Right? There's no justifiable reason why they shouldn't be able to marry in the same manner as opposite sex couples and have all the same rights and responsibilities that come along with it. Granting them "civil unions" just seems like throwing them a bone. It doesn't seem very respectful of the love they feel.

Lawrence Dunn
Lawrence Dunn

This lawsuit should definitely succeed, in part because of the many questions of federal law the plaintiffs address. With the way the State of Colorado has set up the institution of civil unions, it shows apparent good intentions by providing equal adoption and other rights to same-sex couples in the state, but that is clearly not enough. The 2000 legislative ban on same-sex marriage via C.R.S. § 14-2-104 contradicts the 2013 "Civil Unions Act" (C.R.S. § 14-15-102), and together those two state laws combine to deny numerous federal laws designed to protect married couples. While it may not intend to, Colorado in fact denies rights guaranteed to married couples by federal statutes. I'm just surprised the plaintiffs didn't file this action in Federal Court.

Mick Paul
Mick Paul

Marriage should be equal for everyone. No matter sexual orientation, religion, or lack of.

Mick Paul
Mick Paul

Dev, marriage is religous? That has to be one of the most ignorant statements I ever heard. So let me get this straight, if you are in fact not a religous person, and do not believe in some invisible man who lives in the clouds you should not have the same right to marry as someone who believes in the invisible man in the clouds? That is crazy talk.

Laura Chrisler-Matheney
Laura Chrisler-Matheney

Why is equality such a hot button? Keep your religion and your control at home. I hope this passes!

Frank Wojcinski
Frank Wojcinski

grow up people. If they want to get married then let them. wrried about the little stuff

Mark Oinen
Mark Oinen

give me the legal benefits, keep your shitty marriage.

Kenyon Anderson
Kenyon Anderson

For those against marriage equality, let's null their marriages and call them civil unions not recognize their marriages at all.

Tom Godwin
Tom Godwin

May God bless Colorado's sinners

Dev Adams
Dev Adams

Separate is NOT equal. Marriage shouldn't be a government institution to begin with. Civil unions are governmental, marriage is religious. However, as long as the government insists on regulating this, then same-sex couples deserve the same rights as opposite-sex couples.

Bret Egan
Bret Egan

Absolutely this lawsuit can succeed. What can't be accomplished on a ballot can easily be accomplished by a judge.

Amber Harvey
Amber Harvey

I'd like to see standardization across the board so we don't have to keep revisiting this issue, but all positive, progressive change is welcomed. I hope this lawsuit succeeds.

inismagrath
inismagrath

There already are only civil unions recognized by the government. Those unions are called, marriages.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... exactly! ... why should Heterosexuals have all the suffering to themselves?


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