The same-sex marriage issue is moving through some quick paces in Colorado since the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Utah’s ban on such unions is unconstitutional.
On Wednesday, the state attorney general joined with Gov. John Hickenlooper in asking the courts to halt all proceedings challenging Colorado’s constitutional ban until the U.S. Supreme Court can weigh in.
Six couples filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday to overturn the ban, emboldened by the appeals court decision as well as a unilateral move by the Boulder County Clerk to issue marriage licenses to gay couples despite it being illegal under the state constitution.
Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall ignored a letter from Attorney General John Suthers to stop issuing the licenses by noon on Tuesday. Earlier, she said the appeals court decision in the Utah case — which was stayed pending appeal to the high court — essentially rendered Colorado’s constitutional ban moot. (RELATED: Showdown Over Same Sex Marriage Licenses Continues In Colorado)
Suthers filed a motion in the federal case on Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t defend the same-sex marriage ban and asked the court to freeze further proceedings until the Supreme Court decided on the matter.
In his motion, Suthers said he believes the appeals court was “incorrect” in shooting down Utah’s law, but that “the orderly administration of justice and the rule of law strongly favor a stay” in the Colorado case.
The motion also specified that Hickenlooper, who joined the motion along with the Denver County Clerk, believe the appeals case was “correctly decided.”
“We hope and believe that if granted, today’s motion will help end the divisive, costly and now unnecessary litigation regarding same-sex marriage in Colorado,” Solicitor General Dan Domenico said in a statement to local media. “In other words, the legal debate about this question will be suspended in Colorado as we await finality from the 10th Circuit or U.S. Supreme Court.”
Suthers also plans to file a similar motion to stay a case being heard in Adams County, the Denver Post reported.
Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez called Hall’s issuance of licenses for same-sex couples constitutional tampering.
“You don’t just tamper with the Constitution arbitrarily,” he said during a Boulder campaign stop, as reported by the Daily Camera. “I’m with our Constitution. The people of Colorado spoke repeatedly in the law of Colorado that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Although marriages between gay couples are illegal in Colorado under the constitution, the state passed a broad civil union bill in 2013 that confers many of the same rights and responsibilities to committed gay couples.
Beauprez applauded that move.
“I’m very much in favor of equal civil rights for all our citizens, but that’s very different than as we define marriage in Colorado,” he said. “The distinction that needs to be drawn here is, whether you like it or don’t like it, it is the Constitution.”
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