1st same-sex couple applies for marriage in Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

1st same-sex couple applies for marriage in Routt County

Regina Britton, left, and Karen Kosakowski stand outside the Routt County Courthouse after becoming the first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage license in the county. The North Routt couple said they were relieved when a recent United States Supreme Court decision opened the door for their marriage in their home state. They didn't hurry the process, however. They said their visit to the courthouse in Steamboat Wednesday wasn't about politics and that they'd waited to talk with their families and begin planning their wedding before getting their marriage license.
Joel Reichenberger

— On Wednesday, two North Routt women became the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage certificate in Routt County.

Ten-year local resident Regina Britton, 56, and 24-year resident Karen Kosakowski, 55, have been together for 12 years and said they would have gotten married long ago if Colorado had allowed same-sex marriage.

Instead, they were united by a civil union in Vermont in 2006 and have looked forward to a change in the law since.

Same-sex designated beneficiary agreements have been legal in Colorado since July 2009 and civil unions since May 2013.

On Oct. 6, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal for a Utah case that ruled the banning of same-sex marriage unconstitutional. This led to lifting a stay on a similar case in Colorado that also had declared banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional, thereby legalizing same-sex marriage the same day.

“We’re just glad we can finally be news,” Kosakowski said after receiving a copy of the certificate at the Routt County Courthouse on Wednesday afternoon. “We didn’t anticipate being the first ones.”

Technically, the couple has applied for a marriage license and received a marriage certificate, but their union won’t be official until the license is signed and returned after their ceremony.

Kosakowski said the news that she finally would be allowed to marry Britton in Colorado was “huge.”

“Finally, after 12 years, we can be legally married,” she said.

Kosakowski said that under a civil union, the couple wasn’t afforded the same privileges as a married couple, and privileges also could be different based on the state they were in.

“We do have a civil union, but it’s not recognized federally. If something were to happen and one of us were to end up in the ICU, we would not legally be allowed to see that person,” she said. “We are not afforded the same rights with just a civil union.”

Kosakowski said the couple now would be eligible to share benefits and file federal taxes as a married couple.

“That’s pretty big,” she said.

Kosakowski said that in North Routt, it’s well known that the two are a couple, and they haven’t faced any discrimination, though they have in other places they’ve traveled.

“Anyone here that knows us knows we’re a couple,” she said.

The couple wasn’t getting married for political reasons, so they didn’t make an immediate courthouse visit and instead took a couple of weeks to talk with family and begin planning their wedding before picking up their license, Kosakowski said.

The couple plans to marry in Thornton in late November in a ceremony with family and friends.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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