Colorado Attorney General John Suthers filed a motion today with the Boulder County District Court seeking to stop the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder from issuing invalid same-sex marriage licenses while current Colorado law remains in effect. This action comes after attempts over the past several days to resolve this issue directly with the Boulder County Attorney and Clerk and Recorder were rejected. Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman has set the matter for expedited briefing and a hearing on July 9, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.
“Regretfully, our office was forced to take action against Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall due to her refusal to follow state law,” said Attorney General John Suthers. “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.”
Today’s action follows a filing yesterday in federal court in which the Attorney General’s Office and the Governor’s Office asked a judge to suspend trial court litigation until the federal appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court resolves the issue. Contrary to some news coverage and comments by public officials, yesterday’s federal filing is wholly consistent with the attorney general’s obligation to defend the constitutionality of Colorado’s marriage amendment. That position has not changed.
The current legal landscape is that Colorado’s marriage laws are still binding and in effect. Upon the decision of the 10th Circuit in theKitchen case out of Utah becoming final and going into effect that position could change. The outcome of that case, most likely in the U.S. Supreme Court, will determine the fate of Colorado’s laws. For that reason, the Attorney General’s Office is attempting to suspend all the divisive, costly and unnecessary trial court litigation in Colorado while the appellate case reaches its conclusion.
“The motion we filed yesterday seeks to create a cease fire in the battles over same-sex marriage in Colorado. We created a path forward to efficiently and decisively resolve several ongoing legal proceedings,” Suthers explained. “We encouraged Ms. Hall to join us on that path so that she, like her fellow clerks in Denver, Adams, and Jefferson Counties, may be part of the orderly legal process that our system depends upon.”
The Office of the Attorney General is ethically and duty bound to defend the laws of the state, including referendums adopted by the voters to amend the state Constitution. 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 hallmark of our American system of government is that we can resolve very contentious issues through our adherence to the rule of law,” said Attorney General John Suthers.