After hearing the news on the drive into her Westminster office Oct. 6, Rebecca Brinkman raced to her desk to hurriedly type an email.
“Will you still marry me?”
She had asked the question before to the love of her life over the course of …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
After hearing the news on the drive into her Westminster office Oct. 6, Rebecca Brinkman raced to her desk to hurriedly type an email.“Will you still marry me?”She had asked the question before to the love of her life over the course of their 35 years together, but harbored little hope a wedding could ever happen.“I never thought we would see marriage in our lifetime,” said the smiling 63-year-old Thornton resident, looking at her fiancée two days later.But because of a legal domino effect started by the U.S. Supreme Court last week, Brinkman and Margaret Burd, along with other gay couples in Colorado, can now legally marry. Brinkman and Burd were the first to file a lawsuit in the state challenging the ban on same-gender marriages.Brinkman and Burd met in 1976 when they were teachers in Kansas City, Mo. — Brinkman taught health and physical education and Burd taught math.“In 1979 we declared we were a couple and committed to each other,” Brinkman said.They bought each other rings, but did not tell the jeweler the significance.“It was so closeted back then,” Burd, 62, said.Meanwhile, the women continued with their education. Brinkman earned a master’s of science degree in education in 1979 and graduated from Cleveland College of Chiropractic in 1986. Burg received her master’s degree in computer science. In 1985, the couple moved to Broomfield after Burg landed a job with AT&T Bell Lab. Brinkman opened Sheridan Park Chiropractic Center in 1986. They relocated in 1991 to Thornton.These days, Brinkman is partially retired, having sold her practice, and Burd is the CEO and president of Magpie — a custom software design and development firm she founded in 2001.They share their spacious home with two cats they found as strays — Scout and Idgie, named, respectively, after literary characters in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Fried Green Tomatoes.”Marriage did not seem likely, but last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor gave them a spark of hope. In that case, the court ruled unconstitutional a ban on federal benefits for gay couples.“At that point I thought there would be a change in the country,” Brinkman said.They discussed with an attorney the possibility of litigation if the Adams County Clerk and Recorder denied them marriage license.“We discussed it multiple times,” Burd said.The indecisiveness stemmed from an experience in the early 1990s when they openly fought against proposed Amendment 2 that would prevent any city, town or county from recognizing gay people as a protected class.Brinkman and Burd walked door-to-door to encourage opposition the amendment; however, they found little support.“People were openly hostile,” Brinkman said.“Wishing us death, that’s how hostile,” Burd added. “It was scary.”Colorado voters approved the amendment 53 percent to 47 percent only to have it ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996.Despite concerns, the couple filed a lawsuit against Adams County Clerk and Recorder Karen Long on Oct. 31, after the office denied their application for a marriage license.This time, the women found supporters. Some people seemed surprised gay people could not marry already, Brinkman said.“They didn’t know civil union wasn’t the same,” Burd said.State lawmakers passed a bill last year allowing civil unions. However, the federal government doesn’t recognize these unions so those couples don’t have the same rights and benefits as married couples.After decades of waiting for marriage equality, the past week’s events have been a whirlwind.Most importantly, though, Burd’s answer to Brinkman’s question was an enthusiastic “Yes!”The couple has not yet set a wedding date.But that’s OK. They want to take their time and plan something special.“I don’t want to get married just because I can,” Brinkman said. “I want it to mean something.”
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.