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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 1 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 31
Colorado Supreme Court halts marriages
Section One
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Colorado Supreme Court halts marriages

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Colorado Supreme Court told the Boulder County Clerk to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in a brief order dated July 29.

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall had been issuing licenses to Gay and Lesbian couples since June 25, when the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling striking down Utah's ban on same-sex marriages. Since Colorado is also under the Tenth Circuit's jurisdiction, she reasoned, their decision applied equally in her state.

According to Hall's office, 202 same-sex licenses had been issued before the state Supreme Court stepped in.

'I am disappointed by the Colorado Supreme Court's stay, but I will comply with the order,' Hall said in a statement. 'Given the avalanche of recent cases determining that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, I am hopeful the stay will be short-lived and that we will be able to resume issuing licenses soon.'

After Hall began issuing licenses, county clerks in Adams, Denver, and Pueblo Counties followed suit. State Attorney General John Suthers argued that the licenses were illegal, but Hall refused to stop issuing them.

After lower state courts declined to intervene, Suthers filed a protest with the Colorado Supreme Court on July 27. Because state law has no provision for stopping a clerk from issuing licenses illegally, the state has to accept them even if they are illegal, he said in his court filing, and therefore only the Supreme Court can stop Hall from throwing state law into chaos.

Suthers said he was pleased with the Supreme Court stay on further licenses.

'Today, the Colorado Supreme Court restored order to the state's legal process by making it clear that all clerks and recorders should comply with existing state law,' Suthers said in a statement. 'We are pleased that the focus may now return to the important constitutional issues posed by the same-sex marriage cases pending in Colorado and around the country.'

The Colorado Supreme Court previously ordered Adams and Denver Counties to stop licensing Gay and Lesbian marriages, and Pueblo County stopped voluntarily.

Both federal and Colorado state judges ruled in July that the state's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. The rulings were stayed pending appeal, however.

Colorado State Judge C. Scott Crabtree ruled on July 9 that state law violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. On July 23, federal District Judge Raymond Moore issued a preliminary injunction allowing six same-sex couples to marry, based on his belief that they will win their suit when the case is argued before him.

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