BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – A Boulder County clerk began issuing same-sex marriage licenses Wednesday after a federal appeals court ruled that states cannot prevent gay couples from getting married. But the Colorado Attorney General’s Office said the licenses are invalid because the ruling was put on hold.
The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel made it clear that marriage is a fundamental right, Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall said in a statement.
“Our family, friends and co-workers have been treated as second class citizens for long enough,” she said. “Unless a Court in Colorado or the U.S. Supreme Court tells me otherwise, I plan to begin issuing licenses.”
Hall told The Associated Press that her office issued two marriage licenses to gay couples Wednesday, but she expects to dole out many more Thursday.
“We are preparing for it, and we will be ready,” she said.
The decision on licenses came after the three-judge panel in Denver upheld a lower court’s ruling that struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban. It becomes law in the six states covered by the 10th Circuit: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. But the panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.
The appellate court dismissed as “wholly illogical” the notion that allowing gays to wed could somehow undermine traditional marriage.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Wednesday that the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage remains in effect.
“Today’s decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals was stayed by the Court and has not gone into effect even in Utah, let alone in Colorado,” he said. “Any marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in Colorado before a final court resolution of the issue are invalid.”
Hall disagreed, saying she consulted with the county attorney, who believes they are valid licenses.
“They are welcome to their opinion, and I wouldn’t expect anything else from them,” she said, referring to Suthers’ office.
Lawsuits filed by one couple in Adams County and eight in Denver are challenging a gay marriage ban approved by Colorado voters in 2006. The attorney general’s office is defending the ban.
Suthers’ office defied calls by some activists to follow the examples of attorneys general in other states who have declined to defend their state prohibitions.
Colorado recognized civil unions for gay couples last year.
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