Adams District County Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree found that Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the United States and Colorado constitutions. The judge immediately stayed his order acknowledging that the final decision on the matter will either be at the state or federal Supreme Court, and the judge did not want to create any confusion during the appellate process. Attorney General John Suthers stated that he plans to appeal the court’s ruling. Colorado becomes the 16th state to overturn bans on same-sex marriage. The majority of these rulings have occurred since the Supreme Court ruled that there was no rational basis to prevent same-sex marriages when they found sections of the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional in the landmark decision U.S. v. Windsor.
Attorney General Suthers made a comment obviously aimed at Boulder County Clerk & Recorder Hillary Hall commenting that he believes the stay issued in the decision prevents the issuance of marriage licenses. Boulder County started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the 10th Circuit decided that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The 10th Federal Circuit also includes Colorado, so while the court was deciding a Utah law, Boulder County believes that the ruling should hold in Colorado as well. On Thursday, Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman denied the State’s motion to prevent Boulder County from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Judge Hartman had to determine whether there was any type of harm in issuing marriage licenses which needed to be prevented with an injunction. The judge found that the Attorney General did not meet his burden, that there is no harm in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Technically, Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage remains a valid law until an appellate court rules on the issue. However, the Boulder Court may have said it best by describing the law as “hanging on by a thread.” If you or someone you know has questions about becoming married in the state of Colorado, you may want to consult with an attorney to know if it will be a valid marriage. Call the attorneys at Peter Loyd Weber & Associates today for a free consultation at 720-863-7755 to learn about your state and federal rights.