Boulder County Clerk begins issuing marriage licenses to gay couples after historic court ruling

State AG says marriage licenses not valid

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. - In response to the historic ruling in the 10th Circuit Court Wednesday in favor of gay marriage, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall announced she will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately.

Two licenses were issued by the Boulder office at 1750 33rd St., before it closed Wednesday. County clerk offices in the Lafayette and Longmont will begin issuing licenses on Friday. 

"Our son, he’s downstairs, our infant son and he’ll not have to know that ... that his family's any different from another," said Wendy and Michelle Alfredsen, the first couple to get their marriage certificate.

The Alfredsen's are used to forging new paths. They were the first civil union couple to get both of their names on their son's birth certificate and they are one of nine couples who filed a lawsuit challenging Colorado's gay marriage ban.

"It’s not about being the first, it’s not about making history, it’s just about being able to say, I can legally say she’s my wife and my spouse, this morning when we woke up I couldn’t say that legally," said Michelle Alfredsen

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 Clerk's Office. 

"The 10th Circuit Court covers Colorado and Utah, so we felt that the stay applied to the clerks in Utah and it didn’t mandate that they start issuing licenses right away so we didn’t feel it applied to us," said County Clerk Hall.

In response to the court’s ruling and clerk’s announcement, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers issued the following statement:

"Colorado’s constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriages remains in effect. (Wednesday's) 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.

"As Colorado Attorney General J.D. MacFarlane opined in 1975 when the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder issued same-sex marriage licenses, 'the issuance of a license under such circumstances is useless and an official act of no validity and may mislead the recipients of the license and the general public.'"

In the ruling on the Utah case, the 10th Circuit found that "those who wish to marry a person of the same sex are entitled to exercise the same fundamental right as is recognized for persons who wish to marry a person of the opposite sex."

In his dissent, Justice Paul J. Kelly Jr. said the 10th Circuit overstepped its authority and that states should be able to decide who can marry.

"We should resist the temptation to become philosopher-kings, imposing our views under the guise of the 14th Amendment," Kelly wrote.

Hall said she intends to uphold the fundamental right to marriage now recognized by 10th Circuit by issuing marriage licenses to any person who wishes to marry.

"Couples across Colorado have been waiting a long time to have their right to marry the person they love recognized," said Hall. "I want to act immediately to let them carry out that wish."

The state of Utah plans to appeal the ruling. The Utah attorney general will seek a review of the decision. But spokeswoman Missy Larsen says the office is still assessing whether it will go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court or ask the entire 10th Circuit to review the ruling.

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