Colorado sues Boulder County clerk to stop her from issuing gay marriage licenses

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DENVER — The Boulder County Clerk’s decision last week to start issuing licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of Colorado law has her in hot water with state officials.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers filed a motion Thursday to stop Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall from issuing what he described as “invalid same-sex marriage licenses while current Colorado law remains in effect.”

“Regretfully, our office was forced to take action against Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall due to her refusal to follow state law,” Mr. Suthers said in a statement. “While we would prefer not to sue a government official, Ms. Hall’s actions are creating a legal limbo for both the state and the couples whose relationships she wants to champion. That limbo could have tangible and unintended consequences.”

Ms. Hall has issued about 100 marriage licenses since June 25, when a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. The court then stayed the decision in anticipation of an appeal from the Utah attorney general.

Both Colorado and Utah fall under the Tenth Circuit’s jurisdiction. Six Colorado same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn the state’s traditional-marriage law.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has urged county clerks and same-sex couples to exercise patience in waiting for the legal process to reach its conclusion.

“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,” Mr. Hickenlooper said in a Tuesday statement.

In its Thursday statement, the Colorado Attorney General’s office said the appeal is “most likely” to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

“If the 10th Circuit ruling becomes final, and renders unconstitutional the Colorado marriage amendment and the attorney general’s office will abide by such a final ruling and enforce it,” the statement read.

The Boulder County Clerk “intends to uphold the fundamental right to marriage now recognized by the 10th Circuit by issuing marriage licenses to any person who wishes to marry,” according to a June 25 press release.

“Couples across Colorado have been waiting a long time to have their right to marry the person they love recognized,” Ms. Hall said in the statement. “I want to act immediately to let them carry out that wish.”

Thursday’s lawsuit, filed in Boulder County District Court, came after several days of attempts by the attorney general’s office to resolve the matter.

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