Boulder County To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

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UPDATE #2: State Sen. Jessie Ulibarri announces his intention to "get married tomorrow in Boulder."

Today, a court in Denver (the 10th Circuit) ruled that gay and lesbian people have a fundamental right to marry the person that they love. The decision was in reference to a case in Utah, but the Boulder County Clerk, Hillary Hall, is now offering marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who want to show their love and commitment with a marriage certificate.

Colorado's Republican Attorney General (who is essentially the lawyer for our state), has said that these marriages are not legal but he hasn't yet taken action to stop these marriages from being performed. Boulder County is ready to defend their decision to let committed, loving couples get married but they may be forced to stop if the Attorney General tries to block them in court.

With all of that said, Louis and I are planning to get married tomorrow (Thursday) in Boulder. This means that you won't get a gold embossed invite in the mail to join us, we won't have a fancy 10 course meal, or a mariachi band waiting to serenade you through a night of dancing.

Instead, we are taking an opportunity to bond our love with a marriage certificate, here in our home state, hopefully surrounded by the folks who love us. We apologize for the impersonal nature of this message, but we didn't have months of planning to figure this out. Our ability to get married is currently dependent on the legal system, and we don't want this opportunity to pass us by! We will post more details soon about when/where, so please accept this as your invitation to join us tomorrow to celebrate.

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UPDATE: Via the Denver Post's John Aguilar, Attorney General John Suthers looks to quash Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall's decision to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses:

Carolyn Tyler, spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, said any 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."

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Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.

Big news this afternoon from the Longmont Times-Call's John Fryar–Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall has announced that her office will immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the wake of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling today striking down a same-sex marriage ban equivalent to Colorado's in our neighboring state of Utah:

Hall said in a news release that the action was in response to the 10th Circuit U.S. Appellate Court ruling earlier in the day that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Hall said the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Office would begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses, beginning Wednesday afternoon, at its Boulder office at 1750 33rd St., and in its Lafayette and Longmont offices starting Friday, June 27.

Because 10th Circuit decisions are binding in the State of Colorado, the precedent established by the case that was the subject of Wednesday's U.S. appellate court's ruling is applicable to the same-sex marriage ban contained in the Colorado Constitution, Hall's staff said in the news release.

It's a bold move, since the court's ruling today was put on hold as soon as it was issued pending Utah's expected appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. That means neither Clerk Hall's action, nor that of same-sex couples who obtain licenses from Hall's office, is without risk–an injunction could halt Hall in her tracks, and potentially even invalidate marriages that take place in the meantime. That's a question for the courts, and ultimately it will be up to them to decide if these licenses will be allowed to stand.

On the other hand, this isn't happening in a vacuum–same-sex marriage bans are being thrown out across the nation, and public opinion is increasingly lopsided in favor marriage equality–61% in Colorado in a recent poll. That being the case, we imagine there will be plenty of Boulder couples willing to risk a temporary setback to be on the leading edge–of a movement for equality that is increasingly unstoppable.

26 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. And the local paper of record is already reporting that Suthers says any licenses issued would be invalid:

    Carolyn Tyler, spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, said any 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.

    • BlueCat says:

      It's only a matter of time before gay marriage is a universal done deal across the US like marriage between blacks and whites. And not all that much more time either. The dam holding it back is compromised beyond repair. That's one thing Scalia appears to have been right about. 

      http://www.mediaite.com/online/can-utah-thank-antonin-scalia-for-helping-to-overturn-its-gay-marriage-ban/

      • Most definitely. The 10th Circuit ruling is long and detailed. They go at the issue from a number of angles and cover their bases on a number of different grounds; one would think in reading it that they want to provide the broadest possible basis for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality. At the same time, they shoot down every one of Utah's arguments in detail. The only way the Supreme Court gets out of this without ruling on it, IMHO, is to reverse the finding of the appellate judges that the governor and AG had standing.

        This has to be eating at the Utah AG right now: appeal and possibly be the case that legalizes gay marriage across the country, or don't appeal and have gay married people wandering around the state.

  2. FrankUnderwood says:

    Let freedom ring!

  3. Reading today's ruling in light of the Boulder Clerk's office decision to go ahead with gay marriage licenses is "difficult", because the ruling itself is directed specifically at Utah.

    The judgement of the court is that Utah Amendment 3 is permanently enjoined – and that said judgement is stayed pending disposition of the appeals process.

    The legal ruling of the court absent that injunction – i.e. that marriage between two adult persons cannot be prohibited on the basis of gender/sexual preference alone – is not strongly tied to the final judgement or the stay (which specifically addressed the injunction), but those findings form the basis of the judgement, so…

    It would be odd if the court's ruling were to apply to states that were not even party to the appeal while not applying to Utah, and it is the legal reasoning itself that will be appealed, so I can't see any rational judge saying that today's decision is effective in other states within the 10th circuit.

  4. I met Clerk Hall a few years ago. A totally random encounter while I was fundraising for the ACLU in Boulder. We talked for a while, and I was really impressed with her passion and knowledge. Towards the end of the conversation, I asked what she did for work and she mentioned that she was the County Clerk. Until that moment, she had not done or said anything to indicate she was a public official, and if I hadn't asked, I might never have known. She wasn't trying to promote herself. She was just interested in doing the right thing and helping people. I believe her choice today has that same motivation behind it. I hope she has a long and productive career in public service. She's one of the good ones. 

  5. dustpuppydustpuppy says:

    Suthers needs to tender his resignation and get the hell out of our progressive state. And the Coffmans (both of them) will lose, and we will have a Democratic Attorney General this fall by the name of Don Quick. 

    The Republican Party is a dying party and will eventually become a non-entity full of insane people that should be in mental institutions or banned from politics completely. Right wing and fascist politics do not belong here in Colorado and I invite every single Republicans to leave our state and move to Wyoming where it's all right-wing all the time.

     

    • BlueCat says:

      And then the prince and princess rode off on her magical wish granting unicorn and lived happily ever after. Night, night, puppy.

      • Andrew Carnegie says:

        DP:

        I think I know you.

        Do you work for the State Department?

        You have been doing a heck of a job.

        John and Hillary could not have done such a wonderful job without you.

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        Now, now Tabby — I'm sure that Moddy probably appreciates having the company in his padded room . . . 

        . . . I think you look absolutely fabulous in those long sleeves tied around your back, DP.  (Although it does seem a little out of season for summerwear . . . )

  6. Molly Brown says:

    As a supporter of marriage equality, this move seems, at best, irresponsible and, at worst, a publicity stunt. There's no ambiguity here – there's a stay pending SCOTUS so why put these couples in legal limbo?

    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

      She's picking a fight with Suthers. Thiis is a "come and get me" move. OTOH, those marriages may yet be validated if Colorad's mini-DOMA is ultimately ruled unconstitutional.and at, what, 17 in a row since Windsor, there's a fair good chance of that.

  7. CaninesCanines says:

    Hmmm. Maybe this is why the AG's office scheduled a staff meeting today until 1:30 p.m.

  8. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Neither family values nor the law matter to Democrats. If you're on the right side, wait for the court to say so. Don't jump the gun and break laws.

    • Ralphie says:

      Suthers has a remedy.  He can sue the Boulder County Clerk.

    • Progressicat says:

      It's not that family values don't matter, Moddy.  It's that our families value people in vastly broader ways than yours.

    • BlueCat says:

      Most Republicans only support one type of family and the facts on the ground are that that one type of family is far from the only type of family in which Americans live.  Most Dems, on the other hand, support all of the wide variety of family types that actually exist,. Therefore Dems should be seen as the ones wit values most strongly in support of  American families.

      The same is true of supporting the married state. Republicans want to restrict marriage only to those who conform to their personal ideal of what marriage should be, never mind that half of that type of marriage ends in divorce leaving children without the benefit of the two live-in heterosexual parents posited as ideal anyway. Also  some parents die and some parents never marry, rendering the child based argument for restricting marriage a very poor one.  Most Dems, on the other hand, believe that marriage should be an option for loving committed couples regardless of their sexual orientation. In seeking to expand rather than to restrict access to it, Dems should be seen as the stronger supporters of the institution of marriage 

      You righties have a very strange and limited view of family values, the meaning of family and the value of all loving, committed relationships.

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