Colo AG files lawsuit to stop Boulder Clerk from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

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DENVER -- Colorado Attorney General John Suthers filed a motion today with Boulder County District Court to stop the Clerk and Recorder from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Clerk Hillary Hall has been issuing licenses to couples saying a ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturning a same-sex marriage ban in Utah gave her authority to do so. Colorado is among a number of states the 10th Circuit oversees.

However, the 10th Circuit placed a stay on its ruling assuming there would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Suthers has said the stay prevents any clerk from issuing licenses to same-sex couples and the more than 90 marriage licenses issued so far are invalid.

“Regretfully, our office was forced to take action against Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall due to her refusal to follow state law,” said Suthers in a statement. “While we would prefer not to sue a government official, Ms. Hall’s actions are creating a legal limbo for both the state and the couples whose relationships she wants to champion. That limbo could have tangible and unintended consequences.”

Hall responded saying Suthers was "seeking to force me to violate the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian couples who apply for a marriage license."

"I believe it is a waste of resources for the Attorney General to keep denying people their constitutional right, but that is his prerogative until there is a Supreme Court case squarely addressing the issue," Hall wrote. "The question now is what public officials like me should do in the meantime.  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.  I hope the court will agree with me."

Wednesday, Suthers, along with Gov. John Hickenlooper, filed a motion in federal court essentially asking for the Supreme Court to rule on the gay marriage question.

Suthers described the motion as an attempt to "create a cease fire in the battles over same-sex marriage in Colorado."

“The hallmark of our American system of government is that we can resolve very contentious issues through our adherence to the rule of law,” said Suthers.

Suthers gave Hall a deadline of Tuesday at noon to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples or face legal action from his office. She refused saying "Same-sex licenses are legal and just licenses and we will continue to issue them.”

A Boulder County district judge will hear Suthers' lawsuit on July 9 at 9 a.m.

While the state constitution prohibits same-sex couples from getting married, couples are allowed to have civil unions.


  • Linda Giovanna Zambanini

    Republican AG Suthers, doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on – and he knows it! (IMO, the court should slap this down as a frivolous lawsuit!) The Boulder Clerk and the county Attorney are legally in the right!: the 10th Circuit stay applies ONLY to Utah and NOT to Colorado or any of the other states in the 10th Circuit! Here is an excellent explanation of why that is so that I read last night in a comments section on the Denver Post:

    “That is because the only thing that was stayed was the overturning of Utah State Amendment 3. The Court stayed the law that was at the center of the lawsuit. The overturning of Utah State Amendment 3 is properly stayed, and nobody in Colorado is in violation of that stay, because Utah’s State Amendment 3 has never held any legal force inside the state of Colorado.

    “See how staying the overturning of a law that never had any force of law within the State of Colorado, cannot have any impact upon the State of Colorado?

    “If you think I’m wrong, feel free to file a brief with the 10th Circuit Court who has full authority to enforce their own stay. Request they enforce their stay in Colorado. Sothers is chicken to do it himself, because he knows the court won’t rule in his favor.

    “It has been a full week, and rest assured the 10th District Court absolutely is aware of what is happening in Boulder. If they believed it was a violation of their stay, they have full authority with the stroke of a pen to slap an injunction on Hall at any time they want. They haven’t. That speaks volumes.”

    There you have it! And this is why Suthers has refused to fine or punish the Clerk until now! He KNOWS she is right!!! He is just playing it dumb! The court should slap this down as the frivolous lawsuit it is!

  • Asok Smith

    Not to worry about the litigation costs to the Boulder County taxpayers: the Boulder County Commissars will simply put a “Progressive Litigation” tax on the ballot this November.

  • QuixoteJoe

    Suthers needs to make it look and sound good as he moves forward with plans to run for mayor of Colorado Springs in 2015. He’s term limited as Colorado AG.

  • Snarky Cosmos

    If the People’s Republic of Boulder loses in court, will they refund with interest all the fees they collected? Of course the answer is no and all those people will be stuck with an official looking piece of paper that is worth as much as used toilet paper.

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