Denver Sit-in Sparks Arrest; Lesbian Couple Who Sought Marriage License Charged with Trespassing

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: September 25, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
Colorado Contacts: Kate Burns & Sheila Schroeder, kateburns303@comcast.net, 303-806-8444
Christopher Hubble, Soulforce Colorado State Organizer, 303-241-3225, cahubble05@yahoo.com
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(Denver, CO) — At approximately 5 p.m. on September 24, 2007, Kate Burns and Sheila Schroeder of Englewood, Colo., were arrested and removed in police custody from the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building. The couple had entered the Denver Clerk and Recorder Office to demand a marriage license. After requesting an application and being denied on the basis of state and federal law, Burns and Schroeder refused to leave, insisting that marriage laws which deny full equality to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are an example of religion-based oppression and undermine America’s tradition of religious pluralism protected by the U.S. Constitution.

The event drew at least 20 supportive observers. One anonymous bystander made a point to enter the office and thank Burns and Schroeder for taking this stand.

The two were issued citations for trespassing and were released without bail at 5:26 p.m.

During an interview preceding her arrest, Burns said, "As a life-long Unitarian Universalist, I seek to practice my religion by marrying my life partner in the church where I grew up.

Kate and Sheila’s minister, Rev. Mike Morran of Denver’s First Unitarian Church and a strong supporter of full marriage equality for LGBT people, accompanied the couple into the clerk and recorder’s office. "I am proud to stand on the side of love in support of Kate and Sheila. 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."

When asked about her decision to participate in this action, Schroeder explained that the couple has faced numerous acts of discrimination since their commitment ceremony four years ago.

"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," said Schroeder.

This marriage equality direct action is one action in the ongoing FOCUS ON THE FACTS campaign, a nonviolent campaign which Soulforce launched at the beginning of 2007. FOCUS ON THE FACTS seeks to end religion-based oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Coloradans. To learn more about Soulforce and FOCUS ON THE FACTS, visit www.soulforce.org.

Photos of this action are available here.


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

First Unitarian Society of Denver seeks "to create a loving and welcoming spiritual family, embracing all who enter in search of solace, inspiration, knowledge, and growth… we bring our gifts to build a strong religious community… we venture into the wider world, working to build a just and nurturing society for all." The UUA’s support of equal treatment for bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender persons is long-reaching and extensive. For more information, go to www.firstunitariandenver.org.

"All reforms owe their origin to the initiation of minorities in opposition to majorities… Those who believe that they are not bound to obey laws which are repugnant to their conscience have only the remedy of [nonviolence] open to them." –Gandhi

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