Same-sex marriage: AG Suthers asks Colorado Supreme Court to stop Boulder clerk issuing licenses

BOULDER, Colo. - The Colorado Attorney General is asking the Colorado Supreme Court to stop the Boulder County Clerk from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

This is Attorney General John Suther's third try to stop clerk Hillary Hall. Last week, Suther's appealed to the Boulder District Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals to stop Hall and both refused.

In the filing with the Colorado Supreme Court, Suthers asked the court to "Issue a writ directing the Boulder Clerk to abide by the same terms as the Denver and Adams County Clerks and thereby stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses pending resolution on appeal of the merits."

The filing says the Colorado Supreme Court, "is left to restore order to the legal process in Colorado."

Suthers said Hall is issuing licenses contrary to current Colorado law.

Hall disagrees.

Hall started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on June 25, after the 10th Circuit Court ruled that Utah's ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

Because 10th Circuit decisions are binding in the State of Colorado, the precedent established by a Utah case, Kitchen v. Herbert, is applicable to the same-sex marriage ban contained in the Colorado Constitution, according to the Boulder County Clerk's Office.

Suthers has maintained that the Boulder County clerk is misinterpreting the 10th Circuit Court's ruling.

"Colorado’s constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriages remains in effect. (The) 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," Suthers has said.

Monday afternoon, Hall announced her office has issued 198 marriage licenses to same-sex couples so far. She also shared a comment about her position:

"The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stated that marriage is a fundamental right and today the 4th Circuit issued an opinion coming to the same conclusion. I think the least harmful and most sensible solution is to continue to issue marriage licenses in order to avoid more potential civil rights violations. I was very pleased with the court decisions last week that once again have supported me in continuing to issue marriage licenses to loving couples wanting to exercise their fundamental right. I don’t think the Colorado Supreme Court needs to hear this issue now that two other courts have decided the issue in my favor. I will, however, respect  any decision that the Colorado Supreme Court decides to make," Hall said.

-- Previous court cases involving Boulder --

District Court Judge Andrew Hartman ruled earlier this month that the AG failed to prove that Hall's actions harmed the couples or the state and refused to stop Hall from issuing the licenses. Last Wednesday, the same judge denied the AG's request to reconsider his ruling.

Last Thursday, the Colorado Court of Appeals denied Suthers' motion for a stay against Hall.

-- Other clerks have stopped issuing licenses --

Since Hall started issuing licenses in June, the Denver and Pueblo clerks also started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

However, when Colorado's Supreme Court ordered the Denver clerk to stop on July 18, that office immediately complied.

While that decision did not include Boulder and Pueblo, Pueblo County agreed to stop issuing licenses at the request of the Attorney General's office. Boulder's clerk did not.

In the latest filing against Boulder, the Attorney General's office mentions Denver and Pueblo saying, "To be sure, the Attorney General had expected that other Clerks, acting on behalf of the State, would understand that an order directing the Denver Clerk to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses would counsel against other Clerks engaging in identical conduct. This expectation was partly fulfilled when the Pueblo Clerk agreed to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses, because of the order in Brinkman."

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