Colo. Supreme Court Stops Boulder Same-Sex Marriages
The Colorado Supreme Court has ordered a Boulder County Clerk to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The order comes a month after the clerk, Hillary Hall, first began issuing these licenses in defiance of the state's constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage.
In response, Hall said that she will reluctantly discontinue the practice, but looks forward to the day when she may resume her work.
"I am disappointed by the Colorado Supreme Court’s stay, but I will comply with the order," Hall saidin a statement reported by BuzzFeed. "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."
In the 33 days since Hall started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on June 26, the Boulder County Clerk's office reports a total of 202 licenses given to same-sex couples, according to BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner. By July 10, officials in Denver and Pueblo counties were also issuing licenses to same-sex couples, though a separate decision from the Colorado Supreme Court ordered Denver to stop doing so on July 18. That order, notably, did not address Boulder's issuance of same-sex licenses.
Tuesday's decision from the state's highest court, however, is a direct response to a petition from Republican attorney general John Suthers, and provides temporary closure on a tense chapter first opened after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, located in Denver, affirmed a lower court's ruling striking down Utah's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on June 25.
Although that federal ruling was accompanied by a stay as the case works its way through the appeals process, Boulder clerk Hall said that because the 10th Circuit has jurisdiction over Colorado (as well as Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma), she and her attorneys determined that the 10th Circuit's ruling applied to the entire circuit, while the stay issued applied only to the Utah officials named in the suit. Despite repeated requests from the attorney general, Hall refused to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples until a court specifically ordered her to do so.
Now that the state's highest court has indeed ordered Hall to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the legal status of the couples who married — including an out state senator — remains in legal limbo. Attorney general Suthers has frequently said the licenses issued are invalid, but two recent court rulings in favor of same-sex couples seeking the right to marry — one in federal court and one in state district court in Adams County — could provide momentum to those seeking recognition of their constitutional right to marry the person they love.