A court in Colorado has heard that a lesbian couple who held a sit-in protest against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage are guilty of trespassing.

Sheila Schroeder, 43 and Kate Burns, 44, staged their protest in September 2007 at the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building in Denver, when they were refused an application for a marriage licence from the city’s Clerk and Recorder Office.

The couple, who have been together for five years, took Rev. Mike Morran, their local minister from Denver’s First Unitarian Church, with them.

At their trial yesterday defence lawyer Mari Newman said their actions were about equality and dignity, but County Court judge James Breese stopped her from drawing comparisons with the 1960s civil rights movement.

“The court has ruled that the constitutionality of the (gay marriage ban) is not an issue at this trial,” he said, according to thedenverchannel.com.

Ms Schroeder told the court:

“It was important for me to get married because I love Kate Burns very much and I want to spend the rest of my life with her.

“I want that love to be honoured in full view of the state and in full view of the country that I love.”

The couple were arrested when the office closed for the day and issued with citations for trespassing. They were released without bail soon after.

In November 2006 Colorado voted to ban same sex marriages by adjusting the constitution so that marriage is only recognised if it is between a man and a woman.