Judge: Boulder clerk can continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall AP

Boulder County Clerk Hillary HallAP

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall

DENVER — A county clerk in a liberal Colorado college town can keep issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of the state’s gay-marriage ban, a judge ruled Thursday, noting the ban technically still exists but is “hanging on by a thread.”

District Court Judge Andrew Hartman decided Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall 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 illegal in Colorado but that Hall’s behavior was not harming anyone. But he said all who receive a license should be warned that the licenses could still be invalid if a court later finds that Hall didn’t have 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.”

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Hall has issued more than 100 same-sex marriage licenses since the 10th Circuit ruling on June 25. Republican state Attorney General John Suthers sued Hall, the only clerk in Colorado who defied the federal stay.

Hall argued that despite the stay, Colorado’s gay-marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution.

Suthers said Hall’s behavior was causing “legal chaos” while the issue works its way through the courts.

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