Pueblo clerk 'reluctantly' stops issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo County's Clerk and Recorder says he has "reluctantly" stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz was the third to issue the licenses to same-sex couples, after Boulder and Denver.

Last week, Denver was ordered by the Colorado Supreme Court to stop until a lawsuit related to the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage is resolved. The only other county named in the lawsuit, and therefore the injunction, was Adams County -- but that clerk was not issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

After the order came down from the state's high court, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers issued a statement saying, in part, "We assume that all the state's clerks will heed the Supreme Court's direction without requiring more wasteful litigation."

Following Ortiz's announcement Monday, Suthers' office issued a very similar statement.

This afternoon the Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder at the request of the Attorney General discontinued issuance of same-sex marriage licenses.  In doing so, we’ve been able to avoid further wasteful litigation.

We are gratified that Clerk Ortiz has recognized that he needs to be on the right side of the law.  No matter one's views on the issue of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court of Colorado has made clear that until it has had a chance to rule on the merits, clerks must enforce the state's laws, which are still in effect.

The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office released the following statement Monday:

On Friday afternoon, the Attorney General's office sent us an email requesting that we "closely review the order" issued earlier in the day by the Supreme Court, in which the Court ordered both Adams County and Denver to refrain from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. According to the letter, we were to let the AG's office know of our intentions by noon on Monday (today). We responded with the attached letter advising the AG's office that we do not believe the order applies to us and that we intend to keep issuing licenses.

As part of the case made to the Colorado Supreme Court, the AG asked the court to enforce a stay on all clerks. In addition, five county clerks filed briefs in the case asking for clarity as to whether they should or should not be issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Despite having the clear opportunity to, the Court's order did not address clerks in any other county, including Boulder County.

Today, the AG's office appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Hartman's July 10th decision denying their motion for a preliminary injunction. In addition, shortly after noon, the AG's office filed an additional motion with Boulder district court, a "Forthwith Motion for Stay Pending Appeal." The AG's office argues in this motion that the Colorado Supreme Court's order applies to all counties. We disagree for the reasons set out in the attached letter. By its own very clear terms, the Court's order addressed only Adams County and Denver.

"As I have stated before, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stated that marriage is a fundamental right. I think the least harmful and most sensible solution is to issue marriage licenses and avoid the potential of more civil rights violations while this plays out in court. And that is what we intend to do," stated Boulder County Clerk and Recorder, Hillary Hall.

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