Judge hears testimony on Boulder Clerk's issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples

BOULDER, Colo. - A showdown over same-sex marriage licenses in Colorado went to court Wednesday. The judge says he'll rule shortly on whether clerk Hillary Hall can keep issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

A judge took testimony from gay couples who were married in Boulder as he considers whether to order Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Julie Hoehing, one of the more than 100 couples who have married in Boulder since June 25, testified that when she was in the hospital, the staff refused to tell her partner where to find her after surgery.

"Being married would have helped," Hoehing explained to the court.

An attorney for Hall said he was prepared to call 11 more witnesses in same-sex relationships, but the judge said that wasn't necessary.

A lawyer for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers objected to the testimony during the hearing, saying the proceeding isn't supposed to be about deciding the merits of gay marriage.

He argued that the law requires uniformity across the state, and clerks in Colorado's 63 other counties are not issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. 

He emphasized that what Suthers is requesting is a temporary injunction, which would mean Hall must stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples while current Colorado law remains in effect. He said that would not impact couple's who have already gotten a license.

Suthers is suing Hall for ignoring a stay of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against Utah's gay marriage ban. Suthers has maintained that Colorado's gay marriage ban remains in effect and that the licenses issued by Boulder are invalid.

Boulder County District Judge Andrew Hartman did not rule from the bench after the hearing, but said he planned to issue a ruling "very shortly."

The courtroom was packed and some who wanted to watch the proceedings had to put their name on a list to request a seat.

Demonstrators gathered outside the Boulder Justice Center ahead of the hearing.

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