DENVER (KDVR) — President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law this week.
The measure solidifies the federal recognition of same-sex and interracial marriage, but the constitutional right to those marriages still relies on Supreme Court precedent.
Before Coloradans were given the right to same-sex marriages in late 2014, just before the marriages became legal nationwide in 2015 , voters added language to ban the recognition of those marriages through a 2006 amendment in the state’s constitution. Now advocates are looking to remove it.
“If the Supreme Court does overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, which was the landmark ruling in 2015, it would mean that the right to marry would go back to the states, and Colorado clearly has a constitutional ban on the right to marry,” One Colorado Deputy Director Garrett Royer said. He said the LGBTQ advocacy organization is prioritizing protecting same-sex marriages in Colorado in the future.
“Because it’s a constitutional amendment, we’d have to go one step further than the state legislature,” Royer said. “We’d have to go the voters, which will require a 55% threshold of Colorado voters voting in favor of removing Amendment 43 and then, therefore, guaranteeing the right to marry any two adults in the state of Colorado.”
55% approved constitutional same-sex marriage ban
State Rep. Leslie Herod attended the bill signing for the Respect for Marriage Act on the White House lawn, saying the move from the president is monumental.
“I was invited by the White House because of my decades-long work on LGBTQ equality, my fight for marriage in Colorado, and also I think because I’m the first African American LGBTQ elected person in Colorado,” the Democrat from Denver said. “When we see this bill being signed, it makes us so proud, but then it also makes us remember that we have to get to work in Colorado to ensure that these same protections are codified under Colorado law and we are doing just that.”
Around 55% of Colorado voters said yes to defining marriage as between a man and a woman through Amendment 43, while only around 45% of voters went against it in 2006. Advocates believe the vote would be different if they bring it back to voters now.
“The Colorado community has consistently stepped up and fought for LGBTQ rights, fought for LGBTQ equality,” Herod said. “This will be no different: We will win in Colorado and we will have the support of the people in Colorado. Discrimination, I wish we could say it was a thing of the past, but it’s not and it’s going to take an active fight in order to ensure that we are all protected.”
These talks of change for same-sex marriage protections are coming after the Club Q shooting and amid a wait on a Supreme Court ruling for yet another LGBTQ rights case coming from Colorado. An exact timeline for action on this matter is unclear.