Gay couples can keep marrying in Colorado
By Nicholas Riccardi, AP
July 12, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
DENVER, Colorado--Gay couples can keep getting married in Colorado, even though the state's gay marriage ban is still in effect, a judge ruled Thursday.
The decision added to the national confusion over same-sex marriage, as the judge said a county clerk can continue giving marriage licenses to gay couples despite what the state's attorney general calls "legal chaos" as the issue makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
An hour after the ruling, Denver's clerk said she would join her counterpart in the liberal college town of Boulder in providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Pueblo County's clerk said he will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses Friday morning.
Couples began trickling into Denver City Hall to tie the knot Thursday afternoon.
Anna and Fran Simon rushed to city hall with their 7-year-old son, Jeremy, to wed. "We feel like this marriage license is valid, and that's how were going to act," said Fran Simon, 45.
Surrounded by reporters and TV cameras, Anna Simon, 44, added: "Every little girl dreams of getting married. I didn't imagine it would be quite like this."
Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and Washington, D.C. but it's in legal limbo in much of the rest of the U.S. Seemingly every week, a new gay marriage ban gets struck down. Sometimes marriages start immediately; other times the rulings are put on hold and nothing happens.
District Court Judge Andrew Hartman's decision said the Boulder County clerk can ignore a federal stay on a ruling from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which found states cannot set gender requirements for marriage.
The judge said gay marriage is still technically illegal in Colorado but that Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall's behavior was not harming anyone.
"She is apparently taking the position posited by St. Augustine and followed notably by Martin Luther King Jr. that, 'an unjust law is not law at all,'" Hartman wrote.
However, he warned that the licenses could still be invalid if a court later finds Hall lacked the authority to issue them.
Hartman also noted that every judge who has considered a gay marriage ban in the past year — including one in Colorado the previous afternoon — has found it unconstitutional. He said Colorado's prohibition is "hanging on by a thread."
Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson described the news as "awesome."
"Finally, we can give out marriage licenses to all loving couples," she said.
Fran Simon, left, and Anna Simon kiss after getting their marriage license at the Denver Clerk's office on Thursday, July 10.