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Colo. same-sex marriage license showdown heads to court

Colo. same-sex marriage license showdown heads to court

BOULDER, Colo. — A showdown over gay marriage licenses in Colorado could be resolved Wednesday.

Republican Attorney General John Suthers is suing the Boulder County clerk for ignoring a federal court stay on a recent gay marriage ruling and issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

ColoradoSuthers has maintained that the state’s gay marriage ban remains in effect and that the licenses issued by Boulder are invalid.

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall said she is justified by the ruling last month by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that Utah isn’t permitted to ban marriages based on gender, though the judges stayed their own ruling pending an appeal by the state of Utah either to the full appellate court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 10th Circuit Court has jurisdiction over six states, including Colorado.

Hall has ignored the stay and issued more than 100 same-sex licenses. Suthers said her actions have created “legal chaos.”

“A marriage is only valid in Colorado if it is between one man and one woman,” Suthers said in his lawsuit.

Hall said last week that she would not stop issuing licenses to gay couples.

“I think the least harmful and most sensible solution is to issue marriage licenses and avoid the potential of more civil rights violations while this plays out in court. I hope the court will agree with me,” she said.

About 100 supporters of same-sex marriage rallied outside the Boulder County Courthouse Wednesday before the hearing. The crowd held signs calling for marriage equality now and chanted “no more hate.”

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On the other side of the courthouse entry plaza, a corral roped off for opponents of same-sex marriage was empty.

Boulder County District Judge Andrew Hartman is hearing the lawsuit.

The Suthers-Hall showdown is separate from two same-sex marriage cases awaiting decisions in state and federal court.

Colorado voters changed the state constitution in 2006 to ban same-sex marriages.

Both Suthers and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper have said same-sex marriages should wait until the U.S. Supreme Court settles the question.

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