Same-sex couples are receiving marriage licenses in at least one Colorado county, after the county clerk in Boulder announced that she is ready to implement yesterday's decision from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upholding a ruling striking down Utah's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall told The Denver Post that because the 10th Circuit's jurisdiction includes Colorado, she believes the ruling upholding the "fundamental right to marriage" extends to all states in the 10th Circuit, which include Wyoming, New Mexico, and Kansas in addition to Colorado and Utah. Hall told the Post the county's legal team determined that the stay issued with yesterday's appeals court ruling applied only to Utah and the officials listed in that case.
"We think it is both legally and morally correct," Hall told the Post. "Colorado's prohibition on same-sex marriage has treated our citizens and families as second-class citizens for too long."
According to Denver's KMGH, county clerks in neighboring Lafayette and Longmont will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday morning.
"Couples across Colorado have been waiting a long time to have their right to marry the person they love recognized," Hall said in a press release Wednesday. "I want to act immediately to let them carry out that wish."
Two same-sex couples were married in Boulder Wednesday before the office closed, and gay and lesbian couples again started applying for licenses as soon as the clerk's office opened at 8 a.m. Mountain time today. At least five couples have already received marriage licenses, according to Good Day Colorado's Cathy Hernandez.
Shortly after Boulder began issuing marriage licenses Wednesday, Colorado's Republican attorney general declared that the marriages were not legally binding.
"Colorado's constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriages remains in effect," said Attorney General John Suthers in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "[Wednesday]'s decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals was stayed by the court and has not gone into effect even in Utah, let alone in Colorado. Any marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in Colorado before a final court resolution of the issue are invalid."
The attorney general's statement also noted that Boulder County has a history of defying the state's marriage laws, as the Boulder County clerk and recorder issued same-sex marriage licenses in 1975 — though those unions were ultimately invalidated.
Colorado voters approved an amendment to the state constitution in 2006 defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, though that statute has been challenged in two state court cases brought by private attorneys and a group of nine same-sex couples. Colorado's Democrat-controlled legislature passed civil unions legislation last year, with the first same-sex couples entering into civil unions May 9, 2013.
One of the plaintiff couples in one of those casse, Wendy and Michelle Alfredsen, were among the first same-sex couples to be married in Colorado, when they raced to the Boulder courthouse Wednesday afternoon.
"It’s not about being the first, it’s not about making history, it’s just about being able to say, I can legally say she’s my wife and my spouse — this morning when we woke up I couldn’t say that legally," Michelle Alfredsen told KMGH yesterday.
Watch KMGH's report on yesterday's marriages below, then scroll down to see photos of the same-sex couples marrying in Colorado today.