BREAKING: Colorado Asks Federal Court To Declare Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Last week the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the overturn of Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. In Colorado, the Boulder County Clerk immediately began issuing same-sex marriage licenses, declaring that in her opinion, the Tenth Circuit’s ruling was binding in her state. And yesterday, six gay couples filed another marriage suit in Denver. In response to the new suit and in order to stop the issuing of licenses in Boulder County, tonight Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and state Attorney General John Suthers (left) asked a federal district court to declare the state’s marriage ban unconstitutional and issue a stay on that ruling until the Supreme Court weighs in on the Utah case. Fascinating, yes? Complicated? Yes!

Suthers’ office said he wants to resolve the question of gay marriage and avoid costly litigation. But while Hickenlooper and Suthers agree there should be an injunction and stay, they still disagree on same-sex marriage. Hickenlooper said he believes last week’s federal appeals court decision against Utah’s gay marriage ban was correct. Suthers does not, according to his court filing. In a statement, Hickenlooper called the filing for an injunction “an important step that gets all Coloradans closer to receiving the same legal rights and opportunities.” “We understand there is frustration with the lengthy judicial process, but waiting until the legal process is finished will ensure that marriage licenses issued to same sex couples are not clouded by uncertainty,” the statement continued. “We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will take this matter up quickly. Equality for everyone can’t come soon enough.” Gay-rights activists applauded the signal from Suthers and the governor that Colorado’s ban on same-sex unions won’t stand. But they argued that the marriage prohibition should be lifted immediately.

Here’s Chris Geidner’s take on the situation at Buzzfeed:

The newly filed lawsuit could thus reach a quick, although indefinite, resolution. The move, though, also is Suthers’s best way of seeking a clear legal basis for stopping Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples — something she has been doing for the past week. Hickenlooper and Suthers disagree about whether the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals was correct in striking down Utah’s similar ban last week. In the Wednesday filing in federal court, though, they both agree to a ruling from the trial court that the appellate ruling in the Utah case means that Colorado’s ban also is unconstitutional. “[T]he Defendants do not oppose the entry of a preliminary injunctive relief in favor of the Plaintiffs based on their constitutional claims at this time,” Suthers wrote, adding, however, that they wish for that injunction “to be stayed pending until all final appeals in the [Utah] case are resolved.”

More from the Denver Post:

The AG’s office also said it would file a similar motion in an ongoing lawsuit in Adams County involving couples from both Adams and Denver. In that case, nine couples have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to overturn the state’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage. A stay in that case would essentially stop the judge from issuing a ruling. Ralph Ogden, who represents one of the couples in the Adams County lawsuit, said Suthers’ requests for a stay was an effort to delay a resolution on the issue. “He (Suthers) is not conceding anything,” Ogden said. If the case is allowed to move forward, Ogden said he expected a ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court by early next year. Waiting for a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court could take up to two years, he said.