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


Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.

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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.

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