Kris McDaniel-Miccio on why she's suing to end Colorado's same-sex marriage ban

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In many ways, McDaniel-Miccio sees herself as an unlikely marriage champion.

"For most of my adult life as a feminist, I was not pro-marriage because of the position of women in marriage," she acknowledges. "But when I saw the state and federal government putting their imprimatur on overt discrimination, it was something I thought I had to be involved in. I'd never been a litigant before, but when Colorado passed the civil union bill, I made the decision to broach the subject with Nan and see if it was something we were going to do."

She understands that Brinkman and Burd got involved because "they wanted to have the chance to get married before they die, and I wanted the same thing. I wanted to find someone I love to set up my pup tent with -- to make a commitment that I'd be there in sickness and in health. And our marriage was a very special day, probably the best day of my life.

"I was marrying this woman and declaring my love for her, and my feminist friends were like, 'I can't believe you're getting married! What are you doing?' But there's something to be said for it -- for continuing the traditions."

Well, not all of them. "We had to give little speeches," McDaniel-Miccio remembers, "and I said my mother wishes she could come down from heaven and say, 'You couldn't wear a dress? She's wearing a dress -- why not you?'"

Memories like this one played a big part in McDaniel-Miccio's decision to become a plaintiff -- but for more Coloradans to enjoy the same opportunity, her legal team must best Suthers, whose decision to defend the same-sex marriage ban puzzles her to some degree.

"I can't get into his heart or mind to figure out why he did and didn't do what the other AGs did, which was not to enforce patently discriminatory law," she says. "When we first filed suit in February, he was quoted in the Denver Post as saying he thought any adult could get married, but he needed to support the laws passed in the State of Colorado. But if I could have sat down with him over a Guinness, I would have asked, 'If the Colorado plebiscite had voted to reintroduce slavery or say that women could no longer work after marriage, would you have supported that, too?"

Editor's note: To get a sense of Suthers' reasoning, check out this Washington Post op-ed from February entitled "A 'veto' attorney generals shouldn't wield."

"I understand the conflict he was in as Attorney General, but there's also something about conscience. Martin Luther King taught us that if a law is unconstitutional and immoral -- and I would argue that this law is both unconstitutional and immoral -- you have a duty to speak against it, work against it and take the consequences that flow from it. And I don't think that duty stops when you get into office. I think the duty is enlarged. You're Attorney General for all the people of Colorado, not just for some of them.

"I don't envy him at all, and I don't envy the governor or the Denver clerk -- but that's why you get paid the big bucks, or whatever the expression is these days. It tests the mettle, makes us think about what's important to us as individuals and as a society.

"It's the same thing I had to think about when I became part of this lawsuit. I brought together all the LGBT lawyers. We'd heard they weren't going to do anything, so I invited them to the Washington Park Grille and met John [McHugh] from Reilly Pozner. And being a typical New Yorker, I kept dogging him. I didn't let it go, and they finally agreed to take the case pro bono. And then we had to think about asking people to join the case. And this is a very public thing. We had to think about family, friends, my sister, my brother, and how they were going to handle it. There was a lot of introspection, but I came to the conclusion that there comes a time when you have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. And God willing, we'll win."

Continue for more of our interview with Kris McDaniel-Miccio about the effort to end Colorado's same-sex marriage ban, including two videos and original documents.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts