A state judge in Denver overturned Colorado’s traditional marriage law on Wednesday, but he put same-sex marriages on hold pending an appeal.
Judge C. Scott Crabtree said the state’s voter-approved ban “bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government interest.”
Attorney General John Suthers plans to appeal, but a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals already staked its position on the issue when it ruled last month on Utah’s marriage case. Utah officials announced yesterday they plan to take their appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, rather than asking the full 10th Circuit to rehear its arguments.
The Utah case could be the one to settle the marriage issue nationally. It also set the precedent for putting same-sex marriages on hold after the U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency stay at the beginning of the year. Lower court judges who have overturned traditional marriage laws since then, including Crabtree in Colorado, followed suit.
“The final chapter of this debate will undoubtedly have to be written either in Denver, Colorado, or Washington, D.C.,” he wrote in his opinion. “While the striking down of laws banning same-sex marriages has been progressing at a rapid rate, it will take time for this issue to be finally resolved.”
But another judge in Boulder County ruled today a clerk who's so far issued about 100 marriage licenses to same-sex couples can continue authorizing the unions, in violation of federal rulings. Judge Andrew Hartman said County Clerk Hillary Hall isn't harming anyone by issuing the licenses, although he warned couples who get them run the risk of having them invalidated. After the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a halt to gay marriages in Utah, state officials said they would not recognize the nearly 1,000 marriages that took place there following a federal judge's ruling to strike down the state's traditional marriage law. But the Obama administration said it would recognize the unions, giving same-sex couples a tax incentive to get a marriage license if they can.