UPDATE: The Denver Post reports:
The lawsuit filed Wednesday names Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver City Clerk Debra Johnson as defendants. Currently Colorado permits civil unions between gay couples, but the Colorado constitution bans gay marriage…
Although some states have declined to defend against similar lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said his office's obligations are clear.
"It is the job of the Attorney General's Office to defend our state laws and we will defend against this new lawsuit as we would any other," Suthers said. "This is an important issue that ultimately the appellate courts will resolve."
As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, a bit of a snag this week on the way to the proverbial altar:
After a false start of sorts, a group of same-sex couples are likely to move ahead and file a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban…
Sources told us that attorney John McHugh, who is handling the lawsuit, hadn’t conferred with the defendants, notably Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, whose office denied a same-sex couple a marriage license last Friday, which was serving as grounds for the lawsuit.
McHugh, who has not returned a call seeking comment, wasn’t aware that Johnson, who was out of the office when a same-sex couple applied for a marriage license Friday, was herself open to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which would have rendered the lawsuit pointless.
But a joint press release a short while ago from One Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, and the Colorado GLBT Bar Association announces a lawsuit now indeed underway seeking to overturn Colorado's Amendment 43–the constitutional amendment passed in 2006 banning same-sex marriage in this state. A wrinkle arose when Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson said she would issue marriage licenses anyway, but now she reportedly gets that denying the licenses (as the law presently requires) was the best way to help the cause. As you're likely aware, lawsuits in support of marriage equality are rapidly proceeding–and succeeding–in many states.
As of today, add Colorado to the list. Statements after the jump.
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.”