DENVER — Saying further delays are pointless, Colorado’s openly gay lawmakers Thursday called for the state’s same-sex marriage ban to be declared unconstitutional and for such a ruling to be effective immediately.
The lawmakers made the comments a day after Republican Attorney General John Suthers’ asked a federal court in Denver for an injunction declaring Colorado’s ban unconstitutional. But he wants the ruling to be stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and the county clerks in Denver and Jefferson counties joined Suthers in asking for an injunction with a stay.
The lawmakers applauded the action from the governor and attorney general, but said they believe further appeals are unnecessary in light of several court decisions against bans in other states.
“There’s nothing left to argue about. It’s time to put a court-order in place enjoining the enforcement of our ban in Colorado. Let people be married and move on with their lives,” said Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, a state budget writer and one of five gay lawmakers who called for a quick – and final – court ruling.
Suthers’ disagrees with last week’s federal appeals court decision in Denver against Utah’s gay marriage ban, which has triggered a flurry of legal activity in Colorado.
Boulder County’s clerk began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples after the ruling, despite Suthers’ objections. And six gay couples filed a lawsuit in Denver federal court asking that the state’s ban no longer be enforced. Suthers’ filing Wednesday was in response to that lawsuit.
Suthers also filed a lawsuit Thursday against Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall to stop her from continuing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Hall responded by making it clear she will continue to issue licenses. The case will be heard next week.
Hickenlooper told reporters that the legal process should play itself out, but reiterated his support for same-sex marriage.
“If you believe everybody’s equal and has the right, the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, and we really are created equal, then by extension – by every extension of law, of logic, of love, you know, people should be able to marry who they want to marry,” he said Thursday.
But Steadman said the state should concede the unconstitutionality of its ban and allow gay couples to marry immediately.
“The longer we delay, the more we say, ‘Oh, let’s hold our breath. Maybe something will happen differently.’ The more we put ourselves in that position of delaying justice, which is really denying justice,” he said. “And as I’ve pointed out, and I can speak from personal experience, not everyone can afford to wait.”
Steadman’s longtime partner, Dave Misner, died of cancer in 2012, a year before Colorado passed civil unions for gay couples. Steadman sponsored that bill.
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