Colorado Attorney General John Suthers on Monday said all 64 county clerks must begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear all appeals on gay marriage bans.
Suthers’ announcement is an abrupt and unexpected resolution to the legal battles in Colorado, including the attorney general’s previous successful efforts to stop to county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses this past summer.
“By choosing not to take up the matter, the court has left the 10th Circuit ruling in place,” Suthers said in a statement. “We expect the 10th Circuit will issue a final order governing Colorado very shortly. Once the formalities are resolved clerks across the state must begin issuing marriage licenses to all same-sex couples.”
Federal and state judges in Colorado have previously struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage but they also implemented stays in those cases.
Suthers said his office will file motions to expedite the lifting of the stays in both the state and federal courts. The attorney general said he will to continue to advise the clerks on when to begin issuing the licenses.
Attorneys representing the couples in the federal lawsuit also filed a motion Monday morning to have the stay lifted in that case.
Once the legal formalities are finalized, same-sex marriage will be legal in Colorado.
On June 25, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples hours after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Utah’s ban. Clerks in Denver and Pueblo counties joined Hall, after a Boulder District Court judge denied Suthers’ request to stop her.
In just over a month, about 350 same-sex marriage licenses were issued in Colorado.
On July 18, the Colorado Supreme Court ordered Johnson to stop issuing the licenses , and Suthers persuaded the Pueblo clerk to stop shortly after. But it took more than a week and two additional court orders before the Colorado Supreme Court ordered Hall to stop.
On Monday, Hall’s office said once the injunction is resolved the office will resume issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
The high court’s decision not to hear appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin has effectively legalized same-sex marriage in those states.
Six other states — Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — are bound by the same appeals the Supreme Court denied. Couples in those states should be able to get married soon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: The Denver Post, “Colorado AG says all 64 clerks must issue same-sex marriage licenses,” by Jordan Steffan, POSTED: 10/06/2014 10:33:34 AM MDT2 COMMENTS| UPDATED: 8 MIN. AGO