More Pressure for Gay Marriages in Colorado
DENVER | Pressure is growing for gay marriage to be legalized in Colorado after a judge ruled the state's eight-year-old ban on it was unconstitutional and a county clerk argued in court that she should be allowed to already issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
District Judge C. Scott Crabtree on Wednesday became the 16th judge to strike down a state's gay marriage ban in the past year, but he put his ruling on hold pending an appeal. He wrote that the provisions in Colorado law clearly violate the state and U.S. constitutions. "There is no rational relationship between any legitimate governmental purpose and the marriage bans," he wrote.
The ruling will be appealed by Attorney General John Suthers' office, which defended the ban.
Same-Sex Marriage License Injuction"Every time we find the constitution protects individuals, it is a victory for everybody," said John McHugh, who argued the case for the plaintiffs and said they will try to ensure appeals go directly to the Colorado Supreme Court. "We will do everything we can do to fast-track this and get marriage licenses issued in every county in Colorado."
Kris McDaniel-Miccio, one of the 18 plaintiffs in the case and a law professor at Denver University, said she had anticipated a favorable ruling but was still ecstatic. "It's validation," she said. "I have wanted this validation my whole life."
The ruling would overturn a 2006 ballot measure outlawing same sex marriages. Attorney Nicolle Martin, who represents groups opposed to gay marriage in Colorado, said that was inappropriate. "Decisions like this from Judge Crabtree undermine the will of the people of Colorado who announced by a 55% margin that marriage is the union of one man and one woman," she said. "It is troubling that one state court judge can erase the judgment expressed by the citizens of Colorado."
Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, Suthers' office asked a Boulder judge to ban that county clerk from issuing same-sex marriage licenses in defiance of a stay on a separate ruling two weeks ago by the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that Utah cannot outlaw gay marriage. Also on Wednesday, Utah's attorney general announced he'd appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Suthers, a Republican, sued Boulder Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall for issuing about 100 licenses to same-sex couples since June 25. His lawyers argued that stories of gay couples are moving, but that the appellate court's stay on its ruling must be obeyed.
"It's not a final decision. It's not binding in Colorado," said Michael Francisco, Suthers' assistant solicitor general.
In that case District Judge Andrew Hartman said he would issue a decision soon but did not elaborate.
A group pushing for legal gay marriage in Colorado issued a statement after the Crabtree ruling urging Suthers to bow to the inevitable legalization of gay marriage. "It's only a matter of time before wedding bells will be ringing all across the state," said Wendy Howell of Why Marriage Matters Colorado.
But Suthers didn't sound like he was in a hurry in his own response to the ruling. He said the issue will remain unsettled until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in and that it clearly prevents county clerks from issuing marriage licenses.
Suthers and the state's governor, John Hickenlooper, have already asked a federal court to freeze all state-level gay marriage litigation until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the legality of same-sex marriage ban.
"While the legal debate regarding same-sex marriage continues, and many find the legal process frustrating, adherence to the rule of law will bring about the final resolution with the greatest certainty and legal legitimacy," Suthers said.
AP reporter Kristen Wyatt contributed to this story.