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Flurry of Action as Fed. Court Strikes Colo.'s Gay-Marriage Ban

By William Peacock, Esq. on July 25, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Waiting for action on the Colorado gay marriage battle front? We have good news and bad news.

The good news is this: There have been three major court decisions in the last month addressing Colorado's ban. However, the bad news is that nothing is finalized just yet -- pretty much everything is on hold pending review from higher courts.

A federal court ruled against the state ban earlier this week, as did a state court earlier this month, but both decisions are on hold pending appeal. We've also talked about the rogue clerk who was defying the state's ban by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She's still at it, but other clerks have been ordered to stop.

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Federal Court: Ban Unconstitutional

Relying upon the Tenth Circuit's recent rulings in the Utah and Oklahoma cases, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore issued an order striking down Colorado's ban on same-sex marriages.

"The Court agrees with the analysis in Kitchen and Bishop that marriage is a fundamental right and that the Challenged Laws impermissibly infringe upon that right," Moore stated. "The Court therefore concludes that Plaintiffs will likely succeed in establishing that Colorado's ban impermissibly violates Plaintiffs' constitutional rights."

Fed. Ruling Stayed, but Not Stayed

Though Judge Moore refused to stay his decision pending appeal, he did delay the decision's effective date until August 25, which gives the state time to reach out to both the Tenth Circuit and the Supreme Court for a stay.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court has issued stays in two similar cases, including one in Utah just last week, Judge Moore declined to infer that stays were appropriate based on the cursory orders issued in other cases, reports SCOTUSblog.

"[T]his Court is not some modern haruspex, skilled in the art of divination," Moore wrote. "This Court cannot -- and, more importantly, it will not -- tell the people of Colorado that the access to this or any other fundamental right will be delayed because it 'thinks' or 'perceives' the subtle -- or not so subtle -- content of a message not directed to this case. The rule of law demands more."

State Cases

Earlier this month, a Colorado state court also ruled against the state's ban on gay marriages, though that decision was immediately stayed pending appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, reports the Washington Blade.

And late last week, the Colorado Supreme Court ordered the Adams County and Denver clerks to hold off on handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Adams County clerk had yet not begun doing so, but the Denver clerk's office had issued 108 licenses before the court's ruling.

Meantime, clerks in Pueblo and Boulder, who were not affected by the ruling, told the Denver Post that they would continue to issue licenses.

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall was the first to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples, doing so after the Tenth Circuit issued its rulings against neighboring states' similar bans.

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