Updated: 6:00 p.m. MDT
DENVER — The Boulder County clerk continued issuing same-sex marriage licenses Tuesday, ignoring an order from Colorado’s attorney general to stop by Tuesday and adding to an escalating showdown over marriage in Colorado.
Clerk Hillary Hall began issuing licenses last week after a federal appeals court in Denver ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry. The ruling was stayed pending appeal, and Colorado’s constitution bans gay marriage.
Hall insisted Tuesday that she had legal justification to issue the licenses.
“How do you stay a fundamental right?” Hall said, telling reporters that her office issued five same-sex marriage licenses Tuesday. Hall argued that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals erred by staying its ruling.
Republican Attorney General John Suthers ordered Hall to stop issuing licenses as of noon Tuesday. Suthers warned Hall she will face unspecified legal action from his office if she doesn’t stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
Suthers said his office and Boulder County should appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court to determine whether Hall has the authority to issue the licenses. Suthers said in his letter to Hall that while the 10th Circuit ruling is an “important landmark,” Colorado law will remain unchanged until there’s a final ruling.
Hall had asked Suthers if she could have until July 10 to reply to him. Suthers agreed, but he remained adamant that she stop issuing licenses immediately.
Suthers’ spokeswoman, Carolyn Tyler, said the attorney general “will focus on pursuing another legal strategy to secure compliance with Colorado law,” but she did not elaborate.
In Denver, meanwhile, six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Colorado’s ban on gay marriage.
The lawsuit alleges the state’s same-sex marriage ban violates due-process and equal-protection rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
“Colorado law unlawfully denies the issuance of marriage licenses, and refuses to recognize the marriages of certain couples, based solely on the sex of the persons in the marriage union,” the lawsuit says.
Denver and Adams counties also have pending lawsuits in state court seeking to overturn the state’s gay-marriage ban.
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