Lesbian couple sue Colorado company for taking away insurance

Dominguez, 59, worked in a branch office for Greenwood Village-based Cherry Creek Mortgage as a loan originator. She and her wife, Patricia Martinez, 55, were on the company’s insurance plan until Dominguez went to renew the coverage with United Healthcare in December.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in California Thursday, Dominguez alleges the company said it only recognizes marriages between men and woman. A company spokeswoman did not respond to a request for a comment on the lawsuit.

Daniel Ramos, the executive director of One Colorado, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, said Cherry Creek Mortgage is out of step with the times and the law.

"In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the freedom to marry is a precious, fundamental right and that all marriages are valid," he told Colorado Politics. "Both California and Colorado law protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and we hope the courts will rule that businesses need to follow the law."

Through a statement from her lawyers, Dominguez said the company also retracted coverage for her wife, leaving them to repay more than $50,000 for Martinez’s two heart attacks in 2015.

The couple’s lawyers, Hadsell, Stormer & Renick, a Los Angeles civil rights firm, said Cherry Creek Mortgage continued using Dominguez’s picture in promotional materials after she was let go, "adding insult to injury."

"Cherry Creek recognizes same-sex marriages when it comes to selling mortgages to same-sex couples, so why won’t they recognize the marriage of one of their employees?" Dominguez said in a statement. "They say they believe in family values, but clearly they value some families more than others."

The suit accuses the Colorado company of discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Affordable Care Act, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, and the California Labor Code.

Cherry Creek Mortgage has a history of standing up for the religious beliefs of its owners, the late Bill Armstrong, the former U.S. senator who became president of Colorado Christian University, members of his family and the May family. They filed a federal lawsuit over President Obama’s mandate for employer-provided health-insurance plans to cover contraception in 2013.

Armstrong died last year. His son, Will Armstrong, is the company’s chairman.

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