Colorado finds itself embroiled in a very uncomfortable coming out period.
Some of Colorado’s biggest counties, Denver, Boulder and Pueblo are issuing Same Sex Marriage licenses based on a legal opinion that is not guaranteed to hold up in court.
Meanwhile, Colorado’s other counties are trying to figure out what to do since Colorado still has a same sex marriage ban on the books passed by the voters in 2006. The law is still the law at this point in time.
It may seem easy to some to simply do what Boulder is doing and issue licenses. But, the licenses are technically invalid due to Colorado’s current law. The fact that the 10th Circuit Court decision that inspired Boulder has been stayed, means that the licenses are not valid until a higher court clarifies the issue.
But going this route certainly feels like being on the right side of history since many people believe that same sex marriage bans will eventually be found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. But the fact of the matter is that hasn’t happened yet. So the licenses issued may be morally right, but they are still legally wrong.
Refusing to issue licenses isn’t exactly a great option either because let’s face it, discrimination may be the current law of the land, but it’s still discrimination. I have to imagine that many county clerks and recorders would like to do the right thing but also believe in doing it the right way. Right now, there is no way to do both.
I understand that there may be readers that believe that a moral question still exists here, but please remember we are simply talking about how the government treats contractual partnerships.
Inside of a church, temple or other religious building, marriage is an entirely different question. But marriage in the eyes of the state is a contractual relationship only. When you break it down to contracts and rights, it’s clear that this is a discriminatory law.
But while same sex marriage should be a right, it shouldn’t become a right in a piecemeal, legally questionable process.
While it may feel like history is moving far too slow for some, this approach is the wrong way to make it happen. Grassroots efforts indeed start at the local level, but this isn’t an effort that waiting for grassroots support. It is waiting for the highest court of the land to mark one official historic day.
For Colorado, that may very well be our own State Supreme Court. That could potentially be a much faster route than the U.S. Supreme Court and would be a way to settle this in Colorado. It could also be through the ballot initiative process, but that ship has likely sailed for 2014.
As anxious as some are to rush history and as deserved as it may be, I think most understand that it would be better to do it right. A license with an asterisk that says, “may be valid in the future” is not a license.
Whether it’s a clear court victory, a higher court decision or some other fully legal method, our state deserves to be on the right side of history the right way.
Dominic Dezzutti’s Latest Blog Entries
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.