The Colorado Supreme Court on July 18 ordered clerks in Adams and Denver counties to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the latest development in an ongoing court battle over gay marriage that is being fought on several fronts.
However, the ruling does not impact the counties of Boulder and Pueblo, where clerks have been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the heels of recent court decisions that were victories for those who support marriage equality.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican who is against same-sex marriage, asked the court to intervene in order to avoid “legal chaos” following the court decisions.
One case involved a Boulder County District Court judge’s July 10 denial of Suthers’ request to prevent the Boulder County clerk from issuing “invalid” marriage licenses.
Clerk Hillary Hall had been issuing licenses to gay couples in Boulder since a U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled late last month that Utah could not prevent gay couples from getting married there.
The court for the 10th circuit, which includes Colorado, stayed its ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in.
Immediately after the court’s ruling, the Denver County Clerk’s Office began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, that ended when the state Supreme Court sided with Suthers’ position that the issuing of such marriage licenses must halt until there is closure on the issue of the state’s gay marriage ban.
The state Supreme Court ruling only impacts Adams and Denver counties because they are involved in litigation having to do directly with the question of the constitutionality of the state’s ban on gay marriage.
An Adams County judge in that case ruled on July 9 that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. However, the judge stayed his order, knowing that the issue would be dealt with by a higher court.
Although the state Supreme Court’s decision only impacts clerks in Denver and Adams counties, the Attorney General’s Office said it hopes that clerks in other parts of the state follow suit.
“We assume that all the state’s clerks will heed the Supreme Court’s direction without requiring more wasteful litigation,” the AG’s office said through an emailed statement.