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Claiming Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, a same-sex couple have filed suit against the Adams County clerk after being refused a marriage license.

The Adams County women, Rebecca Brinkman and Margaret Burd, went to the clerk's office Wednesday after 34 years together to try to get a marriage license. Instead, they were offered an application for a civil union.

"Plaintiffs rejected the civil union application because a civil union is not the same as a marriage," states the complaint filed Wednesday in Adams County District Court. "A civil union is more like a business relationship than a marriage."

Thomas Russell, co-counsel for the couple, said he believes this is the first suit challenging Colorado's refusal to recognize same-sex marriage since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June. That ruling said "the United States must recognize marriages between same gender couples."

Brinkman said in an interview that even if she and Burd were married in a state that allows same-sex marriage, their marriage would be turned into a civil union in Colorado.

"We still don't get the same benefits as the dignity of marriage," she said.

The suit contends that denying them marriage in Colorado is the same as denying them federal benefits given to heterosexual couples, such as the ability to file joint tax returns.

Adams County Attorney Heidi Miller said in a written statement the suit is challenging Colorado law. "The only allegation against the Adams County Clerk and Recorder is that she administered current Colorado law," she said.

Yesenia Robles: 303-954-1372, yrobles@denverpost. com or twitter.com/ yeseniarobles