A Colorado judge has ruled that Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall can continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
In Boulder County Judge Andrew Hartman’s ruling, he highlighted the fact that the validity of the licenses is in question, ordering Hall to “provide reasonable notice to prospective and past recipients of same-sex marriage licenses that the validity of their marriages is dependent upon whether a court would find that Clerk Hall had authority to issue same-sex marriage licenses.” Though the ban is still the law of the state, it is “hanging on by a thread,” and as long as the couples voluntarily obtaining licenses are aware that there is still some possibility that their marriages will be invalidated, there is no harm in allowing them to marry.
This decision did not specifically address the current validity of the licenses Hall has issued.
Hall began issuing the licenses on June 25 after the 10th Circuit ruled against Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. Even though the decision was stayed, Hall and her attorneys concluded that the ruling also invalidated Colorado’s ban, but that its stay only applied to Utah. She has issued over 100 licenses to same-sex couples since then.
State Attorney General John Suthers (R) has been defending Colorado’s ban and brought the current suit against Hall to stop her from issuing the licenses. In a bizarre move last week, he actually encouraged a federal judge who had not yet heard any arguments in court to immediately rule against the ban but stay the decision so as to force Hall to cease.
On Wednesday, a state judge ruled in a separate suit that the bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional and stayed his decision. Because it was in the state jurisdiction and not the federal jurisdiction, the stay does not seem to have impacted Hall’s decision to continue issuing licenses.
(HT: Kathleen Perrin)
Denver County Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson has begun issuing same-sex marriage licenses as well.