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Colo. AG candidate: Gay marriage ban unconstitutional, shouldn’t be defended

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DENVER — The Democratic candidate for Colorado attorney general says the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional rights of gay couples and that the law shouldn’t be defended.

Don Quick

Don Quick

Don Quick made the comments Tuesday morning, putting the issue into the spotlight in the state’s attorney general race months before voters head to the polls. Quick, the former Adams County district attorney and former deputy state attorney general, emphasized that those positions have a responsibility to defend state laws regardless of whether the officeholder agrees with them.

“But in extraordinary circumstances, extraordinary circumstances, when a Colorado law intentionally violates fundamental rights of its citizens, it’s the attorney general’s job to step up and stop that law,” Quick said.

He said that if a law is unconstitutional, “the attorney general has an obligation to say so,” and he urged current Republican Attorney G eneral John Suthers to stop defending Colorado’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, which voters passed in 2006.

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule whether state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional. However, last summer the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Suthers, who is term limited, joined nine states that filed arguments in support of Utah’s gay-marriage ban. The case is pending in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Suthers said in an editorial published this month in The Washington Post that attorneys general “are elected or appointed to defend the laws, not to undermine them.”

Republican candidates Rep. Mark Waller and Cynthia Coffman, Suthers’ chief deputy, say the attorney general’s office should defend Colorado’s ban, like it defends other laws, unless they’re ruled unconstitutional.

“You don’t get to get pick and choose what laws you defend,” Waller said. He said that if Colorado’s gay marriage ban is “deemed to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court of America, I don’t see how you could possibly defend it.”

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However, he said, without such a ruling, Colorado’s law is “constitutional and you have an obligation to defend it.”

Coffman said she looks at the issue of gay marriage in the context what she sees as the role of the attorney general.

“To me, it’s about that basic principle of what the attorney general is supposed to do – to defend the law that the people want, not the law that the attorney general wants,” she said.

She said if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a state law, then the duty of the attorney general is to follow that precedent. But unless that happens, she said it’s not the job of the attorney general “to ‘veto’ laws by refusing to defend them.”

The election for attorney general is in November, with a Republican primary in June.

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18 more reader comments:

  1. Good for him !!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10:31pm
  2. Why should he defend a law set by bigots before him when he knows full on it is wrong. He will do right and we will vote and love him for it!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10:32pm
  3. That would be great to be able to marry the man I love in my state!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10:38pm
  4. Come to California.

    Replied on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 11:20pm
  5. I love to live with a man and women !!!

    Replied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 10:31am
  6. Hope he wins!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10:47pm
  7. rooting for you Colorado!! Best wishes to you and your state xoxo

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10:48pm
  8. Marriage should not be voted on and LGBTQ people should have that right just like straight people

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10:52pm
  9. So glad Suther’s is OUT. (Pun intended)
    This guy has my vote!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10:53pm
  10. right on (y)

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 11:55pm
  11. i’m voted for him…will u civil unionize me….get real!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 1:02am
  12. Colorado really needs to hurry up and end this ban because they are losing money from people like me who are going to places like California and spending my money there to get married. Pretty sure our economy could use the extra money from the LGBT.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 1:10am
  13. It is shameful to say you can’t marry who you love!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 1:14am
  14. Yeah!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 1:20am
  15. I love how there was never a vote for if heterosexuals should get married. Also who we love and who we choose to be with for the rest of our lives has absolutely nothing to do with them and they shouldn’t have a say in it in the first place.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 1:31am
  16. Right on

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:30am
  17. Thank you SIr!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 10:34am
  18. I applaud this candidate for AG in Colorado. Yes he has to do defend the laws of the state, but if they are discriminatory laws, then he should have the right fight against them.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 10:45am