9 same-sex couples denied marriage licenses in Colorado file lawsuit

Today, February 19, nine same-sex couples in Colorado filed a lawsuit in state court seeking the freedom to marry in their home state or respect for their marriages legally performed in other states. The lawsuit joins more than 45 other lawsuits across the country from same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry or in-state recognition of their marriages.

The suit today was filed by private lawyers on behalf of nine same-sex couples, all from Denver, CO. Four of the plaintiff couples married outside of Colorado and are now asking that the state respect their marriage licenses. Five other plaintiff couples are unmarried and wish to marry in their home state of Colorado. 

Dave Montez, executive director of One Colorado, a statewide LGBT organization, applauded the lawsuit. He said:

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. We share their goal of achieving marriage equality as quickly as possible, but we also want to ensure that victory endures – which means creating a climate where all Coloradans are free to live openly in their own communities. There’s a difference between having a civil union or marriage license and feeling comfortable enough to put a picture of your spouse on your desk at work. So as this issue moves toward resolution – either by our courts or at the ballot box – it’s critical that we keep building public support for the freedom to marry by talking to Coloradans about why marriage matters to our families. And One Colorado is proud to be doing that work right now, in every corner of our state.

The lawsuit filing this afternoon comes after several of the plaintiff couples applied for marriage licenses on Friday, February 14, and were denied. The denial came from Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, who explained that she would have preferred to be able to grant the marriage licenses. She spoke out against anti-marriage laws in Colorado, explaining:

It’s been very tough. I’ve been wrangling with it for 24 hours, but I am going to deny the license. I’m going to deny it with a lot of reservations. ... I think it’s very unconstitutional that loving couples can’t get married. However, I think that this is Colorado law right now and I took an oath of office and I need to abide by that oath.

I’ve come to the decision of not issuing the license for the purpose of furthering the cause. I really believe that loving couples should have the ability to get married.

The new lawsuit joins 46 other active lawsuits in 25 states where same-sex couples have joined together to file lawsuits seeking the freedom to marry and urging their state to find that anti-marriage laws and constitutional amendments limiting the freedom to marry violate the United States Constitution. In five of these states - OklahomaUtahOhioNevada, and Kentucky - the lawsuit is at the Circuit Court of Appeals level. 

Read more about recent litigation HERE, and read more about all 47 cases in 25 states at our Marriage Litigation Resource HERE