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Colo. Lesbians Challenge Gay Marriage Ban

Denver, Colo. – A lesbian couple charged with trespassing for staging a sit-in when they were refused a marriage license last year are seeking to overturn Colorado’s ban on gay marriage, the Denver Post reported Feb. 11.

They have filed a motion with a state court, saying that the marriage ban – known as Amendment 43 – violates the right to equal protection under the law for gay and lesbian couples.

Kate Burns and Sheila Schroeder were arrested on Sept. 24, 2007 after entering the Denver Clerk and Recorder Office and asking for a marriage license. They were arrested and removed in police custody when they refused to leave after being told their request violated state and federal law.

In an interview with Soulforce, a gay and lesbian grass roots religious group, Burns said that her inability to marry her partner violated her right to practice her religion freely.
"As a life-long Unitarian Universalist, I seek to practice my religion by marrying my life partner in the church where I grew up,” she said.

At the time, Schroeder also said that her inability to marry Burns was discriminatory.

"We experienced panic when I had a potentially dangerous health crisis and we had no security that she could attend to me in the hospital," she said.
At the time of their arrest, the women were accompanied by their minister, Rev. Mike Morran of Denver’s First Unitarian Church.  

"I am proud to stand on the side of love in support of Kate and Sheila,” he said. “From a church point of view, marriage is a sacrament and the state should stay out of it. This civil right – the freedom to marry – should apply to all citizens."

Colorado voters passed the constitutional gay marriage ban in 2006.

Burns and Schroeder’s trial for trespassing is scheduled for Feb. 13.

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