Colorado Attorney General John Suthers continues his obsession with trying to stop county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite repeated court rulings that strike down bans on same-sex marriage.
On Monday, Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz decided to stop issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples after dealing with what his office called "legal threats" from Suthers. Said Ortiz in a statement:
"I stand by the initial decision I made and still believe that an individual's constitutional rights outweigh a law that discriminates against American citizens. As the Attorney General has admitted it is only a matter of time before Marriage Equality is validated by the Supreme Court of the United States. In light of the Attorney General's threat of litigation, and the Colorado Supreme Court's recent order, I have decided to avoid adding to the Attorney General's already heavy sum of wasteful litigation in this matter. Pueblo County will wait for further clarification on the constitutionality of a clearly unconstitutional law."
We continue to be perplexed by Suthers' strange obsession with defending a ban that courts have repeatedly ruled to be unconstitutional. Suthers has been rumored to be looking at running for Mayor of Colorado Springs in 2015, so perhaps he views his defense of a same-sex marriage ban as something that may help him with a highly-conservative Colorado Springs electorate. But the writing is on the wall here — and has been for a long time — and support for marriage equality among the broader electorate is rising as well. The term-limited Suthers may not have any real interest in being on the same side as public opinion, but that's not a problem that Republican Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman can just ignore.
As chief deputy in the Attorney General's office, Coffman may feel compelled to stand behind her boss on this issue, but voters won't be impressed. Coffman has penned OP-EDs supporting Suthers and his dogged defense of an obviously-doomed law, but the debate has opened up a huge opportunity for Democrat Don Quick to differentiate himself with voters. As Quick wrote in his own recent OP-ED:
Recently in this paper, Cynthia Coffman, the chief deputy attorney general and my opponent in November's election for Colorado attorney general, attempted to defend her position of continuing the defense of Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage. Coffman implied that the reason her office is still defending Colorado's ban is that the Attorney General's Office is required to defend all Colorado laws, even if there are grave doubts about their constitutionality. That's not true, and Ms. Coffman knows it…
…The attorney general's job is to be a champion of Coloradans' rights, not to search for an excuse to deny them. Coffman and her office were not forced to obstruct gay and lesbian Coloradans' fundamental rights, they chose to. If elected attorney general, I'll make a different choice.
In a busy election season with several high-profile races on the ballot, the race for Attorney General might have become an afterthought has Suthers not blown the contest open. Quick and other Democrats may benefit significantly at the polls as a result.