Gardner Clams Up As Same-Sex Marriages Resume

Good for the economy, too.

Good for the economy, too.

As the Denver Post's Jesse Paul reports, same-sex marriages are taking places across Colorado today as the last remaining stays against county clerks are vacated. After years of political battles, lost elections, and in the end anticlimactic court decisions responding to public opinion that has shifted dramatically, marriage equality is the law in Colorado:

Douglas County started issuing same-sex marriage licenses at 8 a.m. on Tuesday…

In Jefferson County, the first same-sex licence was issued at about noon, and Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson said it was "pretty exciting."

Anderson expects a similar number of same-sex marriage licenses as civil unions. The county has issued 241 civil unions.

The licenses are being issued in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday to deny appeals against laws allowing same-sex marriage and a subsequent proclamation that the marriages will now be legal in Colorado.

9NEWS has more from Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, a Republican:

"I believe strongly in individual rights," the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson said. "I personally support marriage equality, and I am proud to be part of this historic day."

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Polling shows that Colorado voters are strongly in favor of marriage equality today–61% in favor to only 33% opposed. That's a sea change from the electorate's mood in 2006, when a gay marriage ban was passed in Colorado and even civil unions failed a popular vote. In the past eight years, the issue has evolved right out from under Colorado Republicans–to the extent that the GOP House majority's shenanigans in 2012 to stop a civil unions bill from passing the legislature playing a significant role in Democrats retaking that chamber in November.

And it's another moment where GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner's long record is now a liability. As a state representative, Gardner voted against joint custody for same-sex couples in adoption cases. In Congress, Gardner voted against funding to implement the repeal of the military's hated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. At the same time, Gardner's long string of flip-flops in this campaign is a major liability all by itself. And with the press now paying critical attention to what he says, it's an increasingly dangerous ploy.

With all of that in mind, what is Gardner supposed to say about same-sex marriage? Answer, as FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports: as little as possible.

"My views on marriage have long been clear," Gardner said to FOX31 Denver. [Pols emphasis] "I believe we must treat each other with dignity and respect. This issue is in the hands of the courts and we must honor their legal decisions.

"While others might seek to divide Coloradans, I will not do that. Coloradans are tired of politicians who spend all their time on partisan hot-button issues that divide our state…"

The problem with that, of course, is that Democrats didn't force the Supreme Court to take this action. Before Republicans found themselves on the wrong side of public opinion, Gardner was more than happy to campaign against, and vote against, the very same equal rights for gay and lesbian citizens that the Supreme Court has upheld and much of the state is celebrating today. The fact is, this is an issue both sides have spent a great deal of time and effort on–LGBT Coloradans and Democratic allies in support, Gardner and Republicans opposed.

The only difference today is that Gardner's side lost.

Equality at last: but don’t forget

What happened yesterday was a very big deal.

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear the appeal of Utah's same-sex marriage ban. Because Colorado is part of the same group of states as Utah in the federal appeals court system, this means that Colorado's same-sex marriage law has also been struck down as unconstitutional.

After years of struggle for equality, committed same-sex couples in Colorado are finally seeing their fundamental rights acknowledged once and for all. Today is a day to celebrate.

But as we celebrate this historic victory for equality, not everyone is celebrating. Here in Colorado, politicians who have fought against marriage equality don't have much to say today. Bob Beauprez, who once claimed that "proponents of gay marriage want to tear apart the institution of traditional marriage itself," has yet to release a statement on yesterday's ruling. Cory Gardner even voted against allowing same-sex couples to have joint custody of children, which has been a settled matter in Colorado for years.

While we congratulate our LGBT friends, neighbors, and family members on their historic victory, it's important to remember that two politicians vying to represent Colorado are on the wrong side of history–and we won't forget.

Years from now, it will be considered bizarre that anyone would have opposed the right of all committed couples to marry. I'd like to believe that those who opposed marriage equality will apologize some day to the Americans whose rights they refused to acknowledge until the courts forced them. Until that happens, though, we have to hold them accountable.

Send a message right now to Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner: they were wrong about marriage equality, and it's time to admit it. We'll share your names and comments with Beauprez, Gardner, the press, and other public officials.

And today, take a moment to reflect on how far we've come as a nation. Times like these make me so proud to be an American. The American Dream is big enough for every family, and that should give us all hope. Thanks for being on the side of equality when it mattered most.

Bob Beauprez Loses Long Battle Against Marriage Equality

With the U.S. Supreme Court's decision today allowing the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling against same-sex marriage bans to stand, it's a good time to review the position of Colorado candidates in next month's elections on marriage equality. Here's a clip of video of then-Congressman Bob Beauprez speaking in 2006 about his strident opposition to same-sex marriage:

BEAUPREZ: We celebrate the fact that we were all created equal by our Creator–equal, but different. And for a purpose. And he showed us that purpose in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve…

And marriage since the beginning of time, as close as I can tell, has been between a man and a woman. And if it was indeed good enough for our Creator, and it was indeed our Creator's plan, that we are created different for an absolute divine purpose, I think we'd best not be messing with his plan today.

Looking deeper, this was far from the only instance of Beauprez expressing a hard-line stand against marriage equality–by today's standards, a viewpoint well out of the mainstream, and uncompromising even by 2006 conservative standards. Beauprez's A Line of Sight blog, which has been moved to a dysfunctional "alternate" location in advance of his entry into the gubernatorial race for the apparent purpose of making it harder to find, contains many such statements, bemoaning the desire of "homosexuals" to "tear apart the institution of traditional marriage."

Bob Beauprez, "In Defense of Marriage," A Line of Sight, 4/14/07

Colorado voters spoke clearly in November approving Amendment 43 which added to the state's Constitution the definition of marriage as being only between one man and one woman. Voters also defeated a heavily funded effort known as Referendum I which would have advanced homosexual rights including domestic partnerships and gay adoption. Nonetheless, the Democrat majority at the state capitol is moving legislation to nullify the voter’s directive, and apparently it has the support of Governor Ritter…

[T]his cultural war is about much more than validating, legalizing, or codifying the union of two homosexuals. The proponents of gay marriage want to tear apart the institution of traditional marriage itself, [Pols emphasis] and if they have to do it one brick at a time, they will, until the structure crumbles… I believe that if marriage between a man and a woman was good enough for Adam and Eve – and it was the plan of their Creator – then we ought not to mess with it.

…In our hands lies the responsibility to nurture and protect what we have inherited from our ancestors and our Creator. Great civilizations have come and gone throughout history – Egypt, Greece, Rome – what will be the enduring legacy of America? Or, what will hasten her demise?

Got that? Egypt. Greece. Rome. Protect America from the gays or share their fate! Makes perfect sense.

But as of today, it's Beauprez's viewpoint that resides in the dustbin of history.

Supreme Court Won’t Take Up Gay Marriage Appeals; Colorado to Begin Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

POLS UPDATE #4: More reaction, Sen. Mark Udall:

"We are a stronger, better state when all couples are able to publically affirm their shared commitment and responsibilities to one another through marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court's move to let the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in favor of marriage equality stand is a win for all Coloradans," Udall said. "We should celebrate what this will mean for so many of our friends, family members and neighbors. And while this is an important milestone for our state and for other states around the country impacted today, we still have work to do to ensure equality for Americans nationwide."

Udall has been a vocal advocate of striking down misguided laws that discriminate against committed, married gay couples at both the state and federal levels. Udall last year helped to pass in the U.S. Senate the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. However, the U.S. House of Representatives has refused to act on the legislation. He also led the successful effort to repeal the harmful and discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The Colorado House and Senate majorities in a joint statement:

"The Supreme Court's decision to let the lower-court rulings stand vindicates a lot of work by a lot of people over a lot of years," said Speaker Mark Ferrandino, the House sponsor, with Rep. Sue Schafer (D-Wheat Ridge), of the 2013 Colorado law allowing civil unions for same-sex couples. 

"It's gratifying that this moment came before my time in the legislature ends," the term-limited Speaker Ferrandino said, "but what really matters is that our state and our country will finally offer equal treatment under the law to all loving couples." 

"We knew this day would come," said Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), who with Senate President Pro Tem Lucia Guzman (D-Denver) were the Senate sponsors of the 2013 law. "The only task left for us is to fix the obsolete Colorado laws now on the books and make them constitutional according to the decisions handed down by the courts, particularly the 10th Circuit." 

"The majority of Americans, and a majority of Coloradans, support marriage equality," Sen. Guzman said. "This is about families, and Coloradans know that families are the backbone of a strong, healthy state. This decision provides further opportunity for all families to succeed under the law." 

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POLS UPDATE #3: The Denver Post reports that Pueblo County is now issuing same-sex marriage licenses, the first jurisdiction in Colorado to do so after the Supreme Court's action today.

bomarriage

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POLS UPDATE #2: Colorado Attorney General John Suthers concedes the obvious. From the Denver Post:

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers on Monday said all 64 county clerks must begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear all appeals on gay marriage bans.

Suthers' announcement is an abrupt and unexpected resolution to the legal battles in Colorado, including the attorney general's previous successful efforts to stop to county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses this past summer…

…"By choosing not to take up the matter, the court has left the 10th Circuit ruling in place," Suthers said in a statement. "We expect the 10th Circuit will issue a final order governing Colorado very shortly. Once the formalities are resolved clerks across the state must begin issuing marriage licenses to all same-sex couples."

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POLS UPDATE: Our friends over at "The Fix" sum up today's decision quite nicely:

The Court's ruling (or lack thereof) is expected to extend gay marriage to 30 states — and it's easy to imagine a number of other states will follow suit in seeking legalization since there will be no pending legislation in front of the Court to keep them from doing so. Will there eventually be a challenge to the legality of same sex marriage in front of the Supreme Court? Yes.  Does the makeup of the Court make some difference in how that decision turns out? Also, yes. But, by not acting on the current challenges, the Court has allowed the massive momentum in favor of gay marriage to continue. And not just to continue, but to grow.

Original post follows…

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(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What will Colorado's Attorney General do now?

The news out of Washington, DC this morning is that the Supreme Court has denied the appeals from opponents of marriage equality this morning: (AP News blurb). With the announcement, the stays of various Appeals Courts are vacated and gay marriage is now legal in all jurisdictions where appeals courts have found in favor of marriage equality!

AG Suthers said he wanted the courts to wait until a decision was handed down by the Supreme Court. This is the decision: the Appeals Courts are unanimous so far – gay marriage is a fundamental right! Will Suthers abide by the decision and ask for his stays to be lifted so that GLBT couples can join in the celebration of marriage? Or will he continue to delay and obstruct?

Pueblo Chieftain Smears “Bo” Ortiz for Political Revenge

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Poor Bo. He just can't catch a break from the Pueblo Chieftain.  To inform the public,  Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz voluntarily advised the Pueblo Chieftain about  faulty driver's licenses distributed by  a Colorado Revenue Department vendor, MorphoTrust. The state IDs and licenses were supposed to have a black band across the top, identifying those ineligible to vote, but 524 of these IDs were sent out without the flag. 

The Chieftain chose  to run the ID story on page one, next to a photo of Ortiz, with the banner headline, "Faulty ID Cards Issued", on September 16, 2014. . The teaser subheading on the online edition read, "No concern for voter fraud." Who issued the faulty IDs? Who is unconcerned about voter fraud?  Judging by his photo under the headline, a reasonable reader would infer: Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz.

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Truthers, Lies, and Clear Choices: Commissioner and Clerk Debates in Pueblo

UPDATE: The story of how Sal Pace outed Tom Ready as a conspiracy nut, who believes that the Sandy Hook school shootings never happened, has gone national, but you saw it here first. Here is a link to video I took of Pace and Ready's remarks, with apologies for the poor quality.

The professional-quality video will be aired by Comcast Channel 19 Community Access TV according to this schedule, starting September 22. If you were smart enough to have thought of recording it, you've got it. But you won't have the priceless audience reactions.

The Commissioner debate began at 6:00 pm.

Steve Henson of Chieftain, moderator, says that there will be no questions from the audience. Only those previously submitted by readers of the Chieftain or Action22 will be asked of the candidates.

No heckling. It is not a rule he enforces against the Ready and Head supporters, who boo, catcall, etc. , pretty much unchallenged, as you will hear and see from the video.

The County Commissioner debate, between incumbent Commisioner Sal Pace, and Republican challenger Tom Ready,  was a very wonky and respectful debate, discussing tax policy, land use, water regulations, jobs and economic development. Sal Pace gave himself some well-deserved props for progress on the Southwest Chief proposal, and a new arts initiative in Pueblo. Ready declined to go after Sal Pace about Pueblo's current County Commissioner email "scandal", for which one Commissioner was fired. This reticence on Ready's part surprised me – but Sal Pace had nothing to do with the emails, so perhaps that explains it.

It was all good – up until the point when Tom went off the rails. He started off by accusing Sal Pace of personally raising utility rates on Pueblo Customers. Sal Pace was a party to the unfortunate agreement that ensconced Black Hills Energy as the town's monopoly customer-gouger, but didn't actually personally throw the switch.  Then Tom went into why coal is cleaner than natural gas, and it kind of went south from there. Sal, appropriately, responded that if Tom wanted to get negative, how about those Facebook posts about how Newtown shootings were a hoax?

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Coffman Votes For Discrimination Against Gay Vet Families

Eh, you know, whatever.

Eh, you know, whatever.

As reported by the LGBT news site Washington Blade today:

A panel in the Republican-controlled U.S. House on Wednesday rejected a measure that would have enabled veterans with same-sex spouses to receive partner benefits wherever they live in the country…

Although the vote was a largely along party lines with Republicans voting “no” and Democrats voting “yes,” Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.), a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, was the only Republican who broke with his party to vote “yes” on the amendment.

…After the Supreme Court ruled against Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration began extending spousal benefits to individuals in same-sex marriages throughout the country for the most part regardless whether the state in which reside recognize their union.

But a year after the ruling, the administration deemed that because Section 103(c) of Title 38 of the U.S. Code — which governs veterans benefits — looks to the state of residence, not the state of celebration, in determining whether a couple is married, it could not afford spousal benefits to veterans in same-sex marriages if they live in a non-marriage equality state…

Also voting “no” on the amendment was Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), another co-sponsor of ENDA. He’s set to attend the upcoming annual dinner for the National Log Cabin Republicans in D.C. on September 17. [Pols emphasis]

Coffman's recent lip service to equality for gays and lesbians who serve in the military, as with so many other issues in Coffman's record, stands in contrast to past positions he's taken–like when Coffman tried to stop same-sex weddings on military bases even in states with marriage equality on the books. Presumably, when Coffman appears next week before the Log Cabin Republicans, he'll have some procedural excuse for voting against this modest measure to protect the families of gay and lesbian veterans.

But if he expects to convince anyone besides the GOP's tokenist LGBT lapdogs, it'd better be good.

Suthers not duty-bound to defend CO same-sex marriage ban

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

In a long question-and-answer story in Westword, Attorney General John Suthers once again lays out his case that he is duty-bound to defend Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban until the bitter end. (Which isn’t bitter, actually, because everyone expects the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn such bans.)

Sounding all above-the-fray and bipartisany, Suthers tells Westword about his high-minded commitment to defend Colorado’s laws, even when he disagrees with them.

It sounds like maybe a beautiful thing, if it were true. But it’s not.

Left out of the Westword interview (and other media coverage of Suthers’ position) is the fact that under Colorado law, our Attorney General doesn't have to defend laws (and constitutional amendments) that he deems unconstitutional. In fact, he’s supposed to go after those laws.

As former Deputy Attorney General Don Quick, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, wrote in The Colorado Springs Gazette in July:

Quick: First, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2003 that it is the attorney general's job to challenge a law when there are concerns about its constitutionality. I remember it well, as I was chief deputy to Attorney General Ken Salazar when the court ruled in our favor. Coffman knows this also, as her office did the same thing last year. The Legislature passed a law restricting the display of marijuana-related magazines, and the Attorney General's Office refused to defend it because it believed it was unconstitutional.

Quick is referring Cynthia Coffman, a Republican who’s running against Quick to replace Suthers. Coffman, who believes marriage is between a man and a woman and works in Suthers’ office, has embraced the Attorney General’s view that he had no choice  but to defend Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The 2003 Colorado Supreme Court ruling, to which Quick refers, involved the infamous effort by Colorado Republicans, challenged by Salazar at the time, to change Colorado’s congressional districts after they’d been established by court order subsequent to the 2000 Census. The decision delivered by Chief Justice Mullarkey stated that if the Attorney General has “grave doubts” about the constitutionality of a law (in this exact case an election-related law affecting an upcoming election) he or she must, “consistent with his ethical duties and his oath of office,” seek to “resolve those doubts," meaning, in this narrow case, file a lawsuit (consolidated cases 03SA133 and 03SA147).

What’s more, attorneys general in at least six states, decided not to defend their states' same-sex marriage bans. And U.S. Attorney General Eric holder has advised state attorneys general, like Suthers, that they are not obliged to defend state laws they see as discriminatory.

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Why Suthers Fought Marriage Equality To The Bitter End

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Monica Mondoza reports, the worst-kept secret in El Paso County local politics–with the possible exception of the “Shirtless Sheriff’s” sexual peccadilloes–is finally official: outgoing GOP Attorney General John Suthers is running for mayor of Colorado Springs.

Six months ago, Suthers met with Mayor Steve Bach to let him know that that mayor’s race was on his mind. Bach, elected the city’s first strong mayor in 2010, said in a recent interview that he had not decided whether he will seek re-election.

Suthers said Tuesday that he’s in the race no matter what Bach decides. He grew up in Colorado Springs, he said, and has watched it grow from a city of 40,000 to 440,000. He said loves that he can walk outside his home and be on a hiking trail with 30 minutes, he said.

But, he said, the city is desperate need of what he called “collaborative leadership.”

“I have, as others have, seen the city lose traction,” Suthers said. “We are somewhat stalled.”

As anyone familiar with Colorado’s cultural geography can tell you, Colorado Springs is the capital city of Colorado’s Bible Belt. With the headquarters of Focus on the Family and countless other evangelical Christian organizations either in or near the city, you can hardly throw a rock in the Springs without breaking a stained glass window. This is not to say that there are no godless heathens within the city limits of Colorado Springs; they just don’t usually decide elections.

With that in mind, it makes much better sense that Suthers has defended the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage far longer than attorneys general in other states. In fact, Suthers running for mayor of arch-conservative Colorado Springs is about the only thing that does make sense. The protracted fight over same-sex marriage hasn’t helped fellow Colorado Republicans, who are now strongly in the minority of public opinion. It hasn’t helped Suthers’ nominated successor Cynthia Coffman, who has been campaigning under a cloud on the issue while her Democratic opponent Don Quick hammers away from the moral high ground. And to be honest, this dogmatic last stand over same-sex marriage has marginalized Suthers personally–at least where his political career might once have been on track for higher office.

But mayor of Colorado Springs? Perfect. And good luck keeping the lights on.

Klingenschmitt : ENDA Allows Bathroom-lurking Demons to Rape Females

(The "Dr. Chaps" crazy train rolls on – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most people do not go into a public bathroom worrying about the history or habits of the person in the next stall. Most people use bathrooms for the usual purposes, and move on with their lives. Not Gordon Klingenschmitt, House District 15 candidate. Mr. Klingenschmitt seems to be obsessed with the demons lurking in bathrooms.

In yet another of Klingenschmitt's jaw-dropping videos, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Republican candidate for House District 15 in El Paso County, Colorado, claimed that ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) will provide an opportunity for demonic aliens to sexually assault females in bathrooms nationwide.

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One Colorado PAC Officially Endorses Gov. Hickenlooper and AG Candidate Don Quick

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

HickQuick1

Today, One Colorado PAC – the statewide political action committee dedicated to supporting fair-minded candidates as part of One Colorado’s mission to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans and their families – endorsed Governor John Hickenlooper and Attorney General candidate Don Quick for the 2014 general election.

“Elections matter – and this November, full equality for our families is on the line,” said One Colorado Executive Director Dave Montez.

“Attorney General John Suthers has vowed to continue defending our state’s discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples, even as Republicans in other states have decided to drop their defense of similar bans and stop wasting taxpayer dollars. We need to elect a Governor and Attorney General who will allow our families to share in the joys of marriage and stop defending the indefensible. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General candidate Don Quick are the team who will get it done as quickly as possible.”

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Suthers Finally Gets His Way (Sort Of) In Goal Line Stand Against Marriage Equality

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

As the Boulder Daily Camera's Mitchell Byars reports, the Colorado Supreme Court has put a stop to Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall's issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, finally delivering GOP Attorney General John Suthers a win after numerous embarrassing defeats in lower courts:

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, bringing an abrupt halt to gay marriages in the last Colorado county to allow them…

Jane Culkin, a communications assistant for the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office, said Tuesday afternoon the office reviewed the file and has stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"We are not going to be issuing any more marriage licenses to same-sex couples for the time being," Culkin said.

Hall said in a statement Tuesday she was "disappointed" by the ruling, but she hopes the stay will be brief.

"Given the avalanche of recent cases determining that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, I am hopeful the stay will be short-lived and that we will be able to resume issuing licenses soon," she said.

In the aftermath of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling striking down the state of Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, Boulder Clerk Hall took advantage of admittedly strained legal ambiguity–claiming that the stay immediately issued by the court only applied to Utah–to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After Suthers' first attempt to stop Hall was rebuffed, Denver and Pueblo joined in issuing licenses–and Suthers' next several attempts to stop them in court were unsuccessful. The State Supreme Court's order to Denver to stop issuing licenses a little over a week ago, which Suthers used to force Pueblo to stop issuing licenses even though they weren't technically subject to the order, was the writing on the wall–the state Supreme Court's action yesterday was probably always inevitable.

These events are taking place against the backdrop of what most agree is the end stage of the national battle over marriage equality. With same-sex marriage bans being declared unconstitutional across the nation, the issue is set for final resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court–and the broad emerging legal consensus on the issue strongly suggests the Supreme Court will rule on the side of marriage equality. In the interim, the unresolved court battles have created temporarily messy situations, like the last few weeks of "legal chaos" (Suthers' term) in Colorado.

Assuming that ultimate victory, marriage equality proponents will have the moral high ground–enough to transcend criticism of a legally questionable rationale, since it will be remembered as the right thing to have done. On the other hand, even though Suthers is on legally defensible ground today, he and his office–to include Republican AG candidate Cynthia Coffman–will be remembered as the ones who fought against marriage equality to the end.

Politically, we know which side we'd rather be on.

Somebody Throw in the Towel for John Suthers, Cynthia Coffman

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Colorado AG John Suthers and chief deputy Cynthia Coffman keep marching toward the political abyss.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers was dealt yet another blow in his ongoing and fruitless quest to defend a same-sex marriage ban in Colorado. From the Denver Post:

Federal and state judges have now declared the law unconstitutional, and Boulder's clerk continues to defy him by issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore rejected Suthers' request to halt proceedings in the case but stayed his decision until 8 a.m. Aug. 25.

That gives Suthers time to appeal Moore's decision to the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals — the same court that found a similar ban in Utah to be unconstitutional less than a month ago.

Moore's ruling marks the fourth time in two weeks that Suthers' efforts have been thwarted by a judge. The attorney general has repeatedly argued that the issuance of licenses continues to stir legal chaos in the state, even though Gov. John Hickenlooper and others have urged him to stop defending the marriage ban.

Lest you might think that Suthers is finally seeing the writing on the wall here, Suthers' office filed yet another appeal with the 10th Circuit less than an hour after yesterday's ruling. As we wrote on Tuesday, Suthers' obsession with defending something that neither the public nor the courts seem to agree with is going to hurt Republican candidates in 2014 — particularly Republican Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman, who is Suthers' chief deputy. This entire story is getting even more absurd for Suthers by the day — particularly with news that he has thrown Colorado into another legal challenge over same-sex marriage in Indiana. Really.

From the Indianapolis Star:

The attorneys general of 10 states have joined in Indiana's appeal of a federal judge's ruling that found the state law banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

In a filing this week, the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah filed a friend of the court brief alleging it is not the judicial branch's role to determine whether same-sex marriage should be permitted…

…"The only question before the court is whether a rational person can believe that redefining marriage, so as to belittle it to no more than a status symbol or a congratulatory certificate, could damage the institution's longstanding and undisputed role in helping to encourage opposite-sex couples to stay together and raise the children they create" the attorneys general argue. [Pols emphasis]

That sentence above is sadly absurd — rhetoric that is a relic from a much different time in this country. Suthers has been busy filing losing briefs with various courts, so perhaps he hasn't had a chance to check out any of this summer's new TV shows. For example, the reality TV show "Married at First Sight," airing on something called the FYI channel, in which men and women agree to marry each other despite never meeting until the wedding ceremony itself. Because, you know, that doesn't belittle marriage or anything.

We don't see how this ends well for Suthers or Coffman, unless their real goal is to rack up a record number of losses in appeals court. If that's the case, well, good work. Or something.

Hickenlooper To Suthers: Stop The Same-Sex Marriage Appeals

UPDATE: Statement from LGBT advocate group One Colorado:

“By calling on Attorney General Suthers not to appeal Judge Crabtree’s ruling striking down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, Governor Hickenlooper has shown incredible leadership as a champion for all Colorado families. From the moment he took office, the Governor has stood up for LGBT Coloradans and their families every step of the way: signing legislation to fight bullying and make our schools safer for LGBT youth, calling a special session on civil unions and ultimately signing the bill into law, and lending both his support and his signature to legislation that protects against workplace discrimination and provides tuition equity to undocumented Colorado students – including many LGBT young people. The record is clear.

“As a proud supporter of marriage equality, Governor Hickenlooper joins the 61% of Coloradans who believe that everyone should have the freedom to marry the person they love. With three Colorado counties now issuing marriage licenses to loving, committed couples who want to protect each other and their families, there is no doubt that our state’s discriminatory ban is hanging on by a thread. That thread is Attorney General Suthers, who is the only person left standing in the way of equality for our families. It’s time to move on. It’s time for Attorney General Suthers to stop wasting taxpayer money defending this indefensible ban, and it’s time for the freedom to marry for all Coloradans."

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Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols caught up with a traveling Gov. John Hickenlooper late last night, and obtained by far the strongest statement yet urging GOP Attorney General John Suthers to give up the fight to preserve Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage:

Late Thursday evening, Hickenlooper, who is attending meetings of the National Governors Association in Nashville, told FOX31 Denver that he supports Crabtree’s decision and is urging Suthers not to appeal it any further than the Colorado Supreme Court.

“I remain a strong advocate for marriage equality,” Hickenlooper said. “The decision on marriage by Judge Crabtree puts Colorado on the right side of history.

“I have urged the attorney general not to appeal Judge Crabtree’s ruling. If he feels he needs to continue to defend this discriminatory law, I urge him to seek final resolution at the Colorado Supreme Court.” [Pols emphasis]

It was important for Hickenlooper to get out of the weeds of this issue and clearly take a stand. Now that he's done so, Suthers is in a much more difficult position politically–continuing to fight an unpopular wedge-issue battle against the wishes of the state's chief executive. The political damage this risks extends to Suthers' desired successor as AG, chief deputy Cynthia Coffman. Doing herself no favors, Coffman published an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette today where she defends the state's continuing appeals:

The issue of same-sex marriage divides very good people with strongly held opinions.

Public debates can be contentious and polarizing.

Indeed, it is more difficult to defend laws in the eye of this public policy storm than it is to succumb to personal and political goals.

However, unlike my opponent in the race for attorney general, I do not confuse my policy preferences with my duty to defend laws with which I may disagree. When I chose to run for attorney general, I committed to set aside my opinions of what the law should be in favor of a higher legal system that recognizes the pivotal role of voters and the courts.

Efforts to change the law on same-sex marriage are now moving rapidly but are not yet settled, and until they are, the attorney general has a duty to play his part and defend current Colorado law.

Bottom line: there is a growing possibility that the Attorney General's race this year will have a much higher profile due to the fast-moving issue of same-sex marriage equality–an issue on which Democrats like AG candidate Don Quick took a risk by focusing on early in their campaigns, but now appear to have been brilliant politically as the issue makes headlines and public support increasingly becomes lopsided on the side of marriage equality.

It is an issue that Cynthia Coffman is now wholly on the wrong side of, along with her boss.

Judge Denies Suthers’ Attempt To Stop Boulder Marriages

UPDATE #6: Pueblo Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz confirms, his office will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples tomorrow morning.

Pueblo County acknowledges marriage equality and will begin issuing licenses at 8 am tomorrow.

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UPDATE #5: GOP Attorney General John Suthers announces his intention to keep fighting, with an appeal of today's ruling denying an injunction against Boulder County to the Colorado Supreme Court:

“It is the view of the Attorney General’s Office that the uncertainty that has been created by these recent Colorado court rulings as to the propriety of county clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses prior to final resolution of the issue, cries out for resolution by the state’s highest court. It is paramount that we have statewide uniformity on this issue and avoid the confusion caused by differing county-by-county interpretations of whether same-sex marriage is currently recognized. Therefore, we will act swiftly in an attempt to prevent a legal patchwork quilt from forming.”

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UPDATE #4: Correcting our previous report, Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz has not yet made a decision on issuing same-sex marriage licenses. His office is reviewing today's ruling now. We'll update soon.

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UPDATE #3: Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver celebrates as her city begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses:

“Debra Johnson has acted quickly and decisively after today’s court ruling, and I fully support her efforts to offer marriage licenses to every Denver couple who wants to make that commitment. Marriage is challenging yet rewarding, and everyone deserves to have their relationship recognized under the law.

“Personally, I’ve dusted off my Universal Life Minister’s card and look forward to helping couples start their married lives together.”

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UPDATE #2: Outgoing House Speaker Mark Ferrandino:

“Today’s ruling is another step towards legal same-sex marriage in Colorado,” Speaker Ferrandino said. “It is time for Attorney General Suthers to stop blocking loving LGBTQ couples from being protected equally under the law.” 

Judge Hartman’s ruling follows yesterday’s decision by Adams County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree ruling Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. 

“This ruling comes just one day after Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional,” Speaker Ferrandino said. “Together these two decisions prove that same-sex marriage is inevitable and continuing to argue against it in court is a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

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UPDATE: In response to today's court ruling, Denver Clerk Deb Johnson has announced her office will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses at noon today. Pueblo Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz announces his office will begin issuing same-sex licenses tomorrow morning is reviewing today's ruling as well to determine how to proceed (see update above).

With that, the proverbial wall is really coming down.

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Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.

As the Denver Post's Jordan Steffen reports, a huge, if still qualified win today for Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall in her fight against Colorado Attorney General John Suthers to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

A judge on Thursday said he would allow Boulder's clerk to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, rejecting a request from Attorney General John Suthers to issue an injunction.

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall's office has issued more than 100 licenses to gay couples since the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Utah ban on same-sex marriages.

Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman said in an order issued Thursday that the AG's office did not meet its burden in proving that Hall's decision to issue the licenses creates any kind of harm for the couples or the state.

A key portion of Judge Andrew Hartman's ruling notes that the ultimate validity of same-sex marriages performed by Clerk Hall's office rest on undecided legal questions about her actions. This decision denies the Attorney General's request for a preliminary injunction, ruling that the state did not make the case that Hall's issuing of same-sex marriage licenses amounted to "irreparable harm."

The State is asking this Court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the actions of an elected government official. As such, the State must meet a high burden at this early stage in the litigation. For the reasons set forth below, the State has not met its burden and the Court DENIES the motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. 

As a temporary measure to protect all those affected by this case, the Court adopts the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s recommendation and ORDERS that the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder identify all same-sex marriages and convey the information as part of its routine monthly reporting of nuptials to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Welfare, Center for Health and Environmental Information and Services, as well as to the Boulder County Vital Records Office in order to reduce any risk of irreparable harm. The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder shall forward the information prospectively and has up to and including July 17, 2014 to supply information on past same-sex marriages. These offices shall keep the information confidential.

In addition, as a temporary measure to protect same-sex couples, the Court further adopts the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s recommendation and ORDERS that Clerk Hall 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.

Despite that qualifier, no question that this is a major validation for Clerk Hall against Suthers–who appears increasingly isolated in his crusade against the inevitable. Democratic AG candidate Don Quick, who has championed overturning Colorado's Amendment 43 in his campaign, looks highly prescient, while opponent and current chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman inherits Suthers' baggage on the issue. With same-sex marriage bans falling across the nation, Colorado was falling behind the curve largely thanks to our obstinate right-wing Attorney General–until Hillary Hall decided to make her stand.

Whatever happens next, today Clerk Hall is a true hero to this cause.