Colorado AG says all 64 clerks must issue same-sex marriage licenses

Anna Simon, left, puts the ring on the finger of Fran Simon after getting the first same sex married couple to get their license at the Denver County clerk's office where they began issuing same sex marriage licenses July 10, 2014. (John Leyba, Denver Post file photo)

Anna Simon, left, puts the ring on the finger of Fran Simon after getting the first same sex married couple to get their license at the Denver County clerk’s office where they began issuing same sex marriage licenses July 10, 2014. (John Leyba, Denver Post file photo)

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.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers (Kathryn Scott Osler, Denver Post file photo)

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers (Kathryn Scott Osler, Denver Post file photo)

“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.

Hillary Hall

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall is all smiles during a media briefing at the Clerk & Recorder’s Office in Boulder, July 10, 2014. Hall, along with County Attorney David Hughes, answered questions from the media in regard to the Boulder County District Court decision on the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in Boulder County. (RJ Sangosti, Denver Post file photo)

DOCUMENT: Read Suthers’ statement about same-sex marriage.

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.

Jason Woodrich, left and Ben Hauth share a kiss after signing their marriage license at the Denver County clerk's office where they began issuing same sex marriage licenses July 10, 2014. (John Leyba, Denver Post file photo)

Jason Woodrich, left and Ben Hauth share a kiss after signing their marriage license at the Denver County clerk’s office where they began issuing same sex marriage licenses July 10, 2014. (John Leyba, Denver Post file photo)

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

Denver clerk begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses

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First same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post)

The Denver County clerk’s office on Thursday began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, just hours after a Boulder judge rejected a bid by the state to block a similar move there.

The first couple, Samantha Getman, 33, and Victoria Quintana, 23, got their license shortly before 2 p.m. They were far outnumbered by reporters, photographers and activists.

Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson’s decision came after a Boulder County judge said he would allow Boulder’s clerk to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, rejecting a request from Attorney General John Suthers to issue an injunction.

Johnson said on her Twitter account: “FINALLY! We can issue marriage licenses to ALL loving couples here in CO. Our Office will be issuing licenses till 4:30 pm today.”

Earlier Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told Post journalists during a meeting that he would back any decision Johnson made about issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

“As a city, we have stood together against injustice and for the rights of all people,” Hancock said in a statement. “Today, I fully support Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson in her issuing of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who simply want the freedom to be united with the ones they love. I stand proudly with her as we take another step toward marriage equality for every single resident of this great city.”

Just after noon, Denver clerk’s spokesman William Porter said no same-sex couple had yet arrived to apply for a license.

When Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall began issuing same-sex marriage licenses on June 25, Johnson had said Denver would hold off until officials felt they had the legal authority to follow suit.

On Thursday, though, Porter said Johnson decided on a change in course in consultation with city attorneys, following the new Boulder ruling and the outcome of another lawsuit naming Johnson. Couples in Denver and Adams counties challenged the state’s same-sex marriage ban in Adams County court, and a judge ruled Wednesday that the ban is unconstitutional.

But in that case, Judge C. Scott Crabtree issued an immediate stay in his ruling, pending the state’s expected appeal.

The Boulder ruling Thursday gave Denver legal cover, in officials’ view.

“Now, thanks to Clerk Hall’s bravery, we can issue licenses today,” Porter said.

He added: “We view this not only as the legal green light, but we’re thankful that we can finally provide this fundamental right. We’re one step closer to marriage equality, but this is not the end of the journey.”

In the Boulder ruling on a temporary restraining order request, Judge Andrew Hartman wrote that the validity of any marriage licenses issued by the Boulder clerk’s office to same-sex couples was conditional ultimately upon courts finding Hall had the proper authority.

That likely leaves any marriage license issued to same-sex couples in some legal limbo until higher courts rule on the validity of Colorado’s gay marriage ban.

The Denver clerk’s office is on the first floor of the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building, 201 W. Colfax Ave.

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson is ready to hand out marriage license to same sex couples on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (Katie Wood, The Denver Post)

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson is ready to hand out marriage license to same sex couples on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (Katie Wood, The Denver Post)

Source:  Denver Post, “Denver clerk begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses,” by Jon Murray and Kieran Nicholson, Posted:   07/10/2014 12:12:18 PM MDT | Updated:   24 min. ago

Boulder County begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses; AG says no

The first same-sex marriage license issued by Boulder County today. (Alex Burness, Daily Camera)

The first same-sex marriage license issued by Boulder County today. (Alex Burness, Daily Camera)

 

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall announced Wednesday afternoon that her office will immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples now that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court has struck down Utah’s ban on gay marriage.

The Colorado Attorney General’s office said the licenses won’t be valid.

The clerk’s office said it would issue same-sex marriage licenses until 4:30 p.m. at its Boulder office, 1750 33rd St., and resume issuing licenses at 8 a.m. Thursday.

The clerk’s offices in Lafayette and Longmont will start issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Friday.

FILE - In this April 10, 2014 file photo, the plaintiffs challenging Utah's gay marriage ban, from left, Derek Kitchen and his partner, Moudi Sbeity; Kate Call, her partner, Karen Archer; Laurie Wood and her partner, Kody Partridge, stand together after leaving court following a hearing at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A federal appeals court for the first time says a state cannot prevent gay people from getting married. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 found that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

FILE – In this April 10, 2014 file photo, the plaintiffs challenging Utah’s gay marriage ban, from left, Derek Kitchen and his partner, Moudi Sbeity; Kate Call, her partner, Karen Archer; Laurie Wood and her partner, Kody Partridge, stand together after leaving court following a hearing at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A federal appeals court for the first time says a state cannot prevent gay people from getting married. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 found that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

No mention was made in the clerk’s online news release about the stay the three-judge panel put on its ruling, pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the matter.

Carolyn Tyler, spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, said any same-sex marriage licenses issued in Colorado will be invalid. Because the 10th Circuit decision was stayed, Colorado’s ban against gay marriage remains in effect, she said.

“It’s not binding on Utah let alone on Colorado,” Tyler said. “Boulder has a history of activism on this issue.”

She noted that in 1975, the Boulder County Clerk issued marriage licenses to a few gay couples.

“They are no more valid today than they were in 1975,” Tyler said.

The appeals court covers the territory of Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Wyoming, New Mexico and Kansas.

Hall said she is moving forward with the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses because the 10th Circuit has upheld “the fundamental right to marriage.”

“Couples across Colorado have been waiting a long time to have their right to marry the person they love recognized,” she stated in the release. “I want to act immediately to let them carry out that wish.”

 

Source: Denver Post, “Boulder County begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses; AG says no,” By John Aguilar, Posted:   06/25/2014 04:12:51 PM MD| Updated:   25 min. ago

10th Circuit Court Says States Can’t Ban Gay Marriage

In a ruling that strikes down gay marriage ban in Oklahoma, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said today that the 14th Amendment protects same-sex couples’ right to marry.

The decision is in the Utah case, which  was considered on a fast track with the Oklahoma case. In both cases, federal judges struck down state bans.

The Oklahoma case is still pending. However, the principle involved in the Utah case applies to Oklahoma and the other states in the circuit: Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico.

Here is a key passage:

“May a State of the Union constitutionally deny a citizen the benefit or protection of the laws of th e State based solely upon the sex of the person that citizen chooses to marry?
“Having heard and carefully considered the argument of the litigants, we conclude that, consistent with the United States Constitution, the State of Utah may not do so.
“We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union. For the reasons stated in this opinion, we affirm.”
 In the 2-1 decision, the court dismissed arguments from the state of Utah that allowing same-sex marriages would have a destabilizing effect on opposite-sex marriages.
“We cannot imagine a scenario under which recognizing same-sex marriages would affect the decision of a member of an opposite-sex couple to have a child, to marry or stay married to a partner, or to make personal sacrifices for a child,” the court ruled.

The opinion can be found here.

Source: NewsOK, “10th Circuit Court Says States Can’t Ban Gay Marriage,” by Chris Casteel Modified: June 25, 2014 at 12:05 pm •  Published: June 25, 2014

LANDMARK VICTORY: 10th Circuit Appeals Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry

** BREAKING: The 10th Circuit has upheld a lower court ruling finding that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Utah is unconstitutional! This is the first federal appellate court ruling since ‘Windsor.

 

Today the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in favor of same-sex couples’ freedom to marry, upholding a marriage ruling out of Utah in December. It is the first ruling by a federal appellate court since last year’s victory in the Supreme Court and, unless reversed, will pave the way for the freedom to marry throughout the 10th Circuit, including in Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Kansas.

The ruling is stayed pending further action, which could include an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

The ruling, written by Judge Lucero, reads:

Having heard and carefully considered the argument of the litigants, we conclude that, consistent with the United States Constitution, the State of Utah may not [deny a citizen the benefit or protection of the laws of the State based solely upon the sex of the person that citizen chooses to marry]. We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.

Read the full ruling HERE. 

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

Today, from the heart of the Mountain West, in a case arising out of Utah, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has brought us one giant step closer to the day when all Americans will have the freedom to marry. This first federal appellate ruling affirms what more than 20 other courts all across the country have found: There is no good reason to perpetuate unfair marriage discrimination any longer. America is ready for the freedom to marry, and it is time for the Supreme Court to bring our country to national resolution and it should do so now.

The decision is in Kitchen v. Herbert, brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private counsel, on behalf of same-sex couples. Meet two of the plaintiffs, Derek Kitchen & Moudi Sbeity, and Laurie Wood & Kody Partridge, HERE.

Currently, 44% of Americans live in states where gay couples share in the freedom to marry: 19 states and the District of Columbia. Recent polling by the Washington Post/ABC News shows 59% of Americans support marriage, including a majority of young evangelicals and Republicans under 45 in other polls.

Oregon and Pennsylvania became the most recent states to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after courts found the ban on the freedom to marry unconstitutional. In total, 22 rulings in recent months have found that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional.

Learn all about pending marriage litigation – the 70+ cases in every single state in the country – HERE.

EDITORIAL: State AG Suthers should back off shameful push against gay marriage

A  Brighton judge answered the question for everyone in Colorado still struggling with whether and how to end Colorado’s embarrassing ban on gay marriage.

“They all got it wrong?” Adams County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree asked, according to a story this week in the Denver Post, talking about a growing list of district court judges across the country overturning similar gay marriage bans in other states. “What am I supposed to do then when presented with this? Just punt?”

Exactly. The days of kicking this awkward political football down the field are long gone. Discrimination against homosexuals in the United States is going the way of codified racism. Additional states each month recognize the bigotry in discriminating against gays and lesbians in regards to marriage and every other right afforded heterosexuals, but not everyone. The U.S. military has recognized and rectified that inequity. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a specific law withholding specific rights and privileges from gays is unconstitutional.

In states all across the country — even in the South and traditionally conservative regions — attorneys general have declined to defend gay-marriage bans, recognizing the futility and sheer cruelty of the task.

Not here. In a place where voters were sold a malicious pack of lies to get them to vote for the state ban in 2006, Attorney General John Suthers is leading the charge to argue to Crabtree that the gay-marriage ban should stand. This, despite poll after poll of Colorado voters, who make it clear their support of the ban has evaporated.

Colorado gets it now. Even though voters believed specious threats several years ago that marriage, families, taxes and more were at risk by not banning gay marriages, a majority of Coloradans see what a farce that was.

Among the most laughable of arguments Suthers’ team is making is that the ban on gay marriage is needed to ensure the continuation of the human race. The lame argument is that a major component of marriage is as an agent to having children. Since homosexuals cannot, naturally, produce offspring, they cannot marry, and if they do, child-producing brides and grooms might also somehow be at risk.

gaybanEven Crabtree balked at the claim, revealing that he has heterosexual friends in their sixties planning a marriage with no intention of rearing children. Should they be prohibited from marrying?

Even more to the point, more children than ever are conceived out of wedlock in this country, often as a prompt for heterosexual marriages. It might come as a surprise to Suthers that no ceremony, license or governmental sanction is needed for men and women to produce offspring. 

All the arguments fail. All of them. Rather than pander to a shrinking minority of stubborn Colorado residents unable to let go of their own irrational and unconstitutional biases, Suthers and the state should concede the inevitable loss of the argument and the case. Instead of further embarrassing the state, which has a proud and active history of fairness and support of gays, minorities and women, Suthers should allow misled voters to rectify their mistake with some shred of dignity and contrition.

Since it looks like that won’t be the case, and barring an unlikely, sudden and monumental Supreme Court ruling, it looks like it will be up to the next Colorado attorney general to clean up this mess.

– See more at: http://www.aurorasentinel.com/opinion/editorial-state-ag-suthers-back-unseemly-push-gay-marriage/#sthash.XA4ZmX6G.dpuf

A  Brighton judge answered the question for everyone in Colorado still struggling with whether and how to end Colorado’s embarrassing ban on gay marriage.

“They all got it wrong?” Adams County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree asked, according to a story this week in the Denver Post, talking about a growing list of district court judges across the country overturning similar gay marriage bans in other states. “What am I supposed to do then when presented with this? Just punt?”

Exactly. The days of kicking this awkward political football down the field are long gone. Discrimination against homosexuals in the United States is going the way of codified racism. Additional states each month recognize the bigotry in discriminating against gays and lesbians in regards to marriage and every other right afforded heterosexuals, but not everyone. The U.S. military has recognized and rectified that inequity. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a specific law withholding specific rights and privileges from gays is unconstitutional.

In states all across the country — even in the South and traditionally conservative regions — attorneys general have declined to defend gay-marriage bans, recognizing the futility and sheer cruelty of the task.

Not here. In a place where voters were sold a malicious pack of lies to get them to vote for the state ban in 2006, Attorney General John Suthers is leading the charge to argue to Crabtree that the gay-marriage ban should stand. This, despite poll after poll of Colorado voters, who make it clear their support of the ban has evaporated.

Colorado gets it now. Even though voters believed specious threats several years ago that marriage, families, taxes and more were at risk by not banning gay marriages, a majority of Coloradans see what a farce that was.

Among the most laughable of arguments Suthers’ team is making is that the ban on gay marriage is needed to ensure the continuation of the human race. The lame argument is that a major component of marriage is as an agent to having children. Since homosexuals cannot, naturally, produce offspring, they cannot marry, and if they do, child-producing brides and grooms might also somehow be at risk.

gaybanEven Crabtree balked at the claim, revealing that he has heterosexual friends in their sixties planning a marriage with no intention of rearing children. Should they be prohibited from marrying?

Even more to the point, more children than ever are conceived out of wedlock in this country, often as a prompt for heterosexual marriages. It might come as a surprise to Suthers that no ceremony, license or governmental sanction is needed for men and women to produce offspring. 

All the arguments fail. All of them. Rather than pander to a shrinking minority of stubborn Colorado residents unable to let go of their own irrational and unconstitutional biases, Suthers and the state should concede the inevitable loss of the argument and the case. Instead of further embarrassing the state, which has a proud and active history of fairness and support of gays, minorities and women, Suthers should allow misled voters to rectify their mistake with some shred of dignity and contrition.

Since it looks like that won’t be the case, and barring an unlikely, sudden and monumental Supreme Court ruling, it looks like it will be up to the next Colorado attorney general to clean up this mess.

– See more at: http://www.aurorasentinel.com/opinion/editorial-state-ag-suthers-back-unseemly-push-gay-marriage/#sthash.XA4ZmX6G.dpuf

All the arguments fail. All of them. Rather than pander to a shrinking minority of stubborn Colorado residents unable to let go of their own irrational and unconstitutional biases, Suthers and the state should concede the inevitable loss of the argument and the case

Click here to read full editorial.

A  Brighton judge answered the question for everyone in Colorado still struggling with whether and how to end Colorado’s embarrassing ban on gay marriage.

“They all got it wrong?” Adams County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree asked, according to a story this week in the Denver Post, talking about a growing list of district court judges across the country overturning similar gay marriage bans in other states. “What am I supposed to do then when presented with this? Just punt?”

– See more at: http://www.aurorasentinel.com/opinion/editorial-state-ag-suthers-back-unseemly-push-gay-marriage/#sthash.XA4ZmX6G.dpuf

Source: The Aurora Sentinel, “State AG Suthers should back off shameful push against gay marriage,” June 18, 2014, 2:12 pm :: Last updated: June 18, 2014 2:13 pm

THE AURORA SENTINEL – See more at: http://www.aurorasentinel.com/opinion/editorial-state-ag-suthers-back-unseemly-push-gay-marriage/#sthash.XA4ZmX6G.dpuf
THE AURORA SENTINEL – See more at: http://www.aurorasentinel.com/opinion/editorial-state-ag-suthers-back-unseemly-push-gay-marriage/#sthash.XA4ZmX6G.dpuf
THE AURORA SENTINEL – See more at: http://www.aurorasentinel.com/opinion/editorial-state-ag-suthers-back-unseemly-push-gay-marriage/#sthash.XA4ZmX6G.dpuf
All the arguments fail. All of them. Rather than pander to a shrinking minority of stubborn Colorado residents unable to let go of their own irrational and unconstitutional biases, Suthers and the state should concede the inevitable loss of the argument and the case – See more at: http://www.aurorasentinel.com/opinion/editorial-state-ag-suthers-back-unseemly-push-gay-marriage/#sthash.XA4ZmX6G.dpuf

Colorado judge considering two lawsuits skeptical of same-sex marriage ban

BRIGHTON, Colo. — Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban appeared to be on thin ice Monday after a judge considering two lawsuits against the law pointed out that 15 other judges have recently struck down similar bans in other states.

Those rulings followed the U.S. Supreme Court decision last year ordering the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages approved by states, District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree said at a hearing.

A lawyer from the Colorado attorney general’s office, which is defending the ban, argued that the justices’ ruling has been misread, to which Crabtree replied, “They got it all wrong?”

Colorado-450x305

Crabtree was openly skeptical of the state’s arguments that the 2006 voter-approved ban protects the procreative nature of marriage. He mentioned two of his friends who are marrying this summer at age 65.

“Their marriage is not about having any more kids,” he quipped.

Crabtree heard arguments in lawsuits filed by one couple in Adams County and eight in Denver who are seeking to be recognized as married couples in Colorado. He said he would issue a written decision rather than rule from the bench and noted that his decision will likely be appealed all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Several of the rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in other states have been put on hold, Crabtree said, suggesting the judge might prevent any ruling from going into effect until appeals are exhausted.

Attorney General John Suthers’ office defied calls by some activists to follow the examples of attorneys general in seven other states who have declined to defend their state prohibitions.

Assistant Solicitor General Michael Francisco warned the judge that no one knows what the true impact could be of overturning the Colorado’s ban.

“It will have real-world consequences,” Francisco said, comparing it to state laws passed 40 years ago making divorce easier.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office did not take a side in the case. The governor’s chief lawyer, Jack Finlaw, said in court that the governor upholds the law but opposed the ban when it was on the ballot in 2006. He urged a ruling “respectful of the rights of all Coloradans.”

Ralph Ogden, an attorney representing one of the couples, said the ban “has created two classes of citizens: One can be married, the other cannot.”

But Francisco said Colorado voters have the ability to make that distinction. He told Crabtree that the judges who have struck down gay marriage bans elsewhere are guessing that the U.S. Supreme Court will declare gay marriage a constitutional right, but it is not the job of lower court judges to predict such a ruling.

The two cases are: McDaniel-Miccio v. Colorado and Brinkman v. Long.

Source:  LGBTQ Nation, “Colorado judge considering two lawsuits skeptical of same-sex marriage ban,” by Nicholas Riccardi, Associated Press, Monday, June 16, 2014

Colorado governor says he supports gay marriage

DENVER—Gov. John Hickenlooper has come out as a supporter of gay marriage.

The Colorado Democrat has been a vocal backer of gay rights but generally stopped short of formally endorsing same-sex marriage. However, on Monday he provided a statement in support of a gay rights group that kicked off a campaign to bring gay marriage to Colorado.

“If all people are created equal,” Hickenlooper said in the statement, “then by extension of law, logic and love, every adult couple should also have the freedom to join in marriage.”

Hickenlooper last year signed a bill legalizing civil unions in Colorado, and spokesman Eric Brown said the governor has spoken at several gay marriage rallies. Hickenlooper is running for re-election this year. Colorado voters in 2006 banned gay marriage.

Gay rights groups on Monday pledged to pursue a ballot measure in 2016 to legalize gay marriage unless courts strike down Colorado’s ban first. Two lawsuits are making their way through state court to do just that.

Judges have struck down gay marriage bans in several conservative states recently. The appeals of those rulings will be heard in a federal court in Denver.

Colorado gay marriage supporters say if they lose in court, they will go to the ballot box to overturn the state’s ban.

Source: The Denver Post, “Colorado governor says he supports gay marriage,” The Associated Press, 03/04/2014 03:42:23 PM MST | Updated: a day ago

Announcing “Why Marriage Matters Colorado”

By Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado

It’s a big day for Colorado.

Today, One Colorado will proudly stand on the steps of the Capitol alongside our coalition partners to launch Why Marriage Matters Colorado, the campaign that will move marriage forward here in Colorado.

Our position is simple: No loving couple in our state should be denied the protections and respect only marriage can provide. And we believe Coloradans are ready for a conversation about why marriage matters to all families.

If you’re ready to bring the freedom to marry to Colorado, add your name to our pledge now. Click here to say that you’re in.

In Colorado, our constitution bans marriage for loving gay and lesbian couples. We have two paths available to do away with this harmful amendment and extend marriage to all Colorado families: amending the constitution by a vote of the people, or winning in the courts. With your support, we’re committed to pursuing both paths simultaneously.

That’s why we’re launching this campaign today – to build the public support we need to make Colorado a state where all families are valued and protected.

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll build grassroots power like Colorado has never seen before – and we’ll be laser-focused on telling the stories of loving same-sex couples who want to marry in the state we all call home.

You can help by pledging your support right now. Click here to add your name and say, “I support marriage for all Colorado families!”

With you and tens of thousands of One Colorado supporters fueling this campaign, the freedom to marry in Colorado isn’t a matter of if – it’s a matter of when.

Thanks for standing with us!

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BREAKING: Nine same-sex couples file suit against Colorado same-sex marriage ban

Nine Colorado same-sex couples seeking to marry in the state filed suit today in Denver District Court, with the claim that being denied a marriage license on Feb. 18 in Denver was a violation of their rights.The lawsuit argues that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, passed to the Colorado Constitution by voters in 2006 as Amendment 43, is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. This lawsuit comes on the heels of favorable rulings in Utah, Oklahoma and most recently Virginia, striking those states’ laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

The lawsuit identifies Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver County Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson as defendants, since both of them are responsible for upholding the existing state law in their jurisdictions, though both Hickenlooper and Johnson personally support extending marriage to lesbian and gay couples.

Neither the plaintiffs nor their lawyers are speaking to media today.

One of the couples in the lawsuit is Arvada couple Wendy and Michelle Alfredsen, whose family has been previously covered in Out Front. The text of the lawsuit states, “Despite believing that these laws are unconstitutional, defendant Johnson, in her official capacity and through her authorized deputy, refused their marriage license application because they are both women. Wendy and Michelle wish to marry in the state of Colorado where they live, and they and their child have been harmed by Colorado’s refusal to allow them to do so.”

While this is not the first litigation challenging Colorado’s law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples, it is the first case to do so on such a scale and with such open backing of Colorado LGBT advocacy and policy groups. Five LGBT advocacy organizations in Colorado — One Colorado, the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, the ACLU of Colorado, the Colorado GLBT Bar Association and the Faithful Voices Coalition, released a joint statement in conjunction with the lawsuit.

From the press release:

Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado:

“Just like thousands of other loving, committed couples across Colorado, the courageous plaintiffs who brought forth today’s case simply want to take care of their families and make a lifelong promise to the person they love. We share their goal of achieving marriage equality as quickly as possible, but we also want to ensure that victory endures – which means creating a climate where all Coloradans are free to live openly in their own communities. There’s a difference between having a civil union or marriage license and feeling comfortable enough to put a picture of your spouse on your desk at work. So as this issue moves toward resolution – either by our courts or at the ballot box – it’s critical that we keep building public support for the freedom to marry by talking to Coloradans about why marriage matters to our families. And One Colorado is proud to be doing that work right now, in every corner of our state.”

Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director of ACLU of Colorado:

“The American Civil Liberties Union has been working for decades to secure marriage equality throughout the country, including here in Colorado. Over the past few years and especially the last few months, we’ve seen an astonishing and welcome shift toward Americans embracing equality and the freedom to marry. As the country progresses, Colorado’s marriage ban increasingly places our state at a competitive and moral disadvantage. We recognize the courage and resolve of these couples and their attorneys as they pursue, through the courts, the freedom to marry that all Coloradans deserve. And as advocates for full equality, we will continue to facilitate the important conversation across our state about why all families deserve the full dignity and protection that only marriage can provide.”

Mindy Barton, Legal Director of the GLBT Community Center of Colorado:

“The GLBT Community Center of Colorado has been supporting equality for gays and lesbians in this state for almost four decades. As this litigation moves forward, we are proud of the plaintiffs and their attorneys for standing up to show that no one should be treated differently just because of who they are and who they love. In parallel with these efforts, we know it’s vital to keep doing the important work of educating the public and talking to the people of Colorado about why marriage matters to all loving, committed couples – gay and straight alike. And The Center remains dedicated to having that important statewide conversation.”

Kyle Velte, President of the Colorado GLBT Bar Association:

“As an organization comprised of LGBT attorneys and focused on equality, it is inspiring to see this litigation filed. We recognize that litigation is one of several ways to achieve full marriage equality in this state, and we applaud the courage of the attorneys and plaintiffs – some of whom are members of our Association – as they move forward in this important legal fight.”

Jeremy Shaver, Spokesperson for the Faithful Voices Coalition, a coalition comprised of 215 faith leaders and 60 faith-based organizations in support of marriage equality: 

“As people of faith, we believe in the Golden Rule – to treat others as we would want to be treated. In light of the litigation filed today, it is important to remember that freedom means freedom for everyone, and none of us should be treated differently just because of who we are. We believe marriage is best defined by love, commitment, and the ability to protect your family – and that is why we support the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples across our state.”

Source: “BREAKING: Nine same-sex couples file suit against Colorado same-sex marriage ban,” By February 19, 2014 | 1:26 pm, (Updated: February 19, 2014 | 3:37 pm)