AG Same-Sex Marriage Crackdown Coming?

TUESDAY UPDATE #3: Buzzfeed now reporting that the Attorney General will go to court tomorrow:

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers’s office has told Boulder County officials that they plan to go to court Wednesday if Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall does not stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Suthers’s office responded Tuesday to county officials’ request for additional time to consider a proposal to allow the state’s supreme court to resolve the question of whether Hall can issue the marriage licenses. Colorado Solicitor General Dan Domenico wrote that the county could have until July 10 to respond to the proposal only if Hall stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples during that time.

“If she elects to continue after today, I am afraid we will be forced to take legal action,” Domenico wrote.


TUESDAY UPDATE #2: Denver Post–Boulder County defies the Colorado Attorney General's office, continues to issue same-sex marriage licenses:

The Boulder County clerk continued issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Tuesday after a deadline imposed by the state's Attorney General…

Hall's office ignored the deadline and continued to issue licenses Tuesday afternoon.

"Same-sex licenses are legal and just licenses and we will continue to issue them," Hall said in a statement released after the deadline passed.


TUESDAY UPDATE: Boulder Daily Camera, Clerk Hillary Hall and the Boulder County attorney plead for more time from the Attorney General's office as same-sex marriages continue:

With today's noon deadline looming, Boulder County officials say they want more time — 10 more days, in fact — to consider the state's proposal to let the Colorado Supreme Court decide whether County Clerk Hillary Hall has the legal authority to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples…

Hall, however, said in a Monday night statement that "because this is such an important issue we have requested additional time from the Attorney General's Office to review their proposal. We hope they give us the time requested to fully review their proposal with our legal counsel."

Boulder County Attorney Ben Pearlman wrote the solicitor general on Monday that Hall "recognizes important concerns you raise in your letter and appreciates your offer of compromise, but she has found one and a half days insufficient for both her office and mine to consider and formulate a response."


UPDATE: Just as we were clicking "publish," the Denver Post's Jordan Steffen reports:

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has given the Boulder County Clerk's office until noon on Tuesday to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses or face further action from his office.

If the office stops issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples before that deadline, the AG's office is offering to file a joint request to the Colorado Supreme Court, asking the court to decide if the clerk has legal authority to issue the licenses…

Suthers told The Denver Post his office has not decided what actions may be taken, but they will discuss possibilities if Hall does not stop issuing licenses before the deadline.


Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

As the Longmont Times-Call's Whitney Bryen reports, same-sex marriage licenses continue to be issued by Boulder County, acting in the wake of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling last week striking down the stat of Utah's gay marriage ban:

Late Wednesday afternoon, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall announced that she would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling found Utah's gay marriage ban violated the Constitution.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has said any licenses issued by Boulder County to same-sex couples are not valid, but he has not moved to stop Hall from issuing them.

The Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports that the Colorado Association of County Clerks is advising their members to wait for the automatic stay on the 10th Circuit's decision is lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court–either by upholding their decision or declining to take up the case:

[Mesa County Clerk Sheila] Reiner, who is president of the Colorado County Clerks Association, said several clerks in the state are discussing what to do with the issue, but the association is advising them that nothing has changed when it comes to the right of gays to marry.

“We are consulting our association attorneys and clerks are consulting their county attorneys to get a read on this and keep close watch,” she said. “The recommendation is to hold off.”

But in Boulder, Clerk Hillary Hall insists she is acting legally and issuing valid licenses.

"That's their opinion. We disagree with it," Hall said Thursday morning. "We will be here issuing marriage licenses until a Colorado court or the Supreme Court tells us to desist."

…The Boulder clerk's office issued two same-sex marriage licenses on Wednesday and 32 on Thursday, including to state Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, and his partner.

Legally, Clerk Hall is operating on an interpretation of the court's ruling, reportedly from Boulder County attorneys, which claims the decision was binding on all states in the 10th Circuit, which includes Colorado–but the automatic stay of enforcement of that decision only applied to the state of Utah. We'll admit we haven't heard anyone we know with legal expertise back that opinion up. But politically, Hall is acting to right what the appellate court clearly identified as a grave moral wrong. Public opinion has swung full circle since the passage of Colorado's Amendment 43 eight years ago, and a solid majority of Coloradans now poll in favor of marriage equality. That we expect is a big reason why Suthers didn't move immediately to halt these licenses last Wednesday when they began to be issued.

The situation is further complicated by the position of Republican Attorney General candidate and Suther's chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman, who needs to appeal to the same statewide electorate that now strongly supports marriage equality to win this year. With Democratic opponent Don Quick making this issue a major plank in his campaign, Coffman risks collateral damage to her own election chances if Boulder's "rogue" marriage license story continues to escalate.

We'll update when and if the other shoe drops.

30 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavieDavie says:

    Between the court's rapid approval of same-sex marriage and SCOTUS's decision today giving corporations "religious" rights that are nowhere in the constitution, GOP candidates will get whipsawed from the voter backlash across the political spectrum.

    They should just rename the GOP the "Peeping Tom Party" because they are fixated on pressing their noses against the window to all our bedrooms.

  2. ModeratusModeratus says:

    We'll admit we haven't heard anyone we know with legal expertise back that opinion up. – See more at:

    It's amazing how hard Pols is trying not to admit that Clerk Hall's actions are illegal.

    • DavieDavie says:

      Why should they say that?  Hall will eventually win, and the marriage licenses will be valid once the ban is overturned.  She's just putting her foot on the accelerator of change.

      If Suthers and Mrs. Coffman want to waste time and voter dollars (and patience), let 'em!

    • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

      Her actions may or may not be legal– I'll wait for a court of competent jursidiction to judge.  But what's really gotta scare the straight right off ya, Moddy, is that it won't be illegal for long.

      Nothing makes social conservatives pee their pants more than the thought of a grade school kid bringing her folks in for Parent's Day and telling her classmates: "This is my dad, and this is my other dad."  The young don't hate like you do Moddy– they won't.  They'll grow up OK with the gay, and you and your ideas will depart the Earth in the normal course– irrelevant and long forgotten.

      I'm so tired of loving these people so much and watching them hide, lie, and fear being found out for something so trivial to their overall selves. and I won't let you or anyone else demean, demonize, or deny them any longer.

    • dustpuppydustpuppy says:

      It's even MORE amazing how hard Moddy tries to be an extremist right-wing fuckwit and continues to fail to do so.


      Clerk Hall's actions is very legal, and the 10th District has already overturned a state that is in the 10th that should be uniformely decided, and guess what, Colorado's in that 10th, and Hall's in the right direction. Suthers is not, so no deal.

      Let Suthers get his ass burned before the irate judge and sanction $5 million from Suthers personally to be donated to the LGBT rights charity.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Resistance is futile, Modster. Nationwide marriage equality is now completely inevitable just as Scalia predicted. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. That was Scalia's .   

  3. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    I said, on Saturday, that this was a "come and get me" move on the part of the Boulder clerk. Just how unpopular Suthers and Deputy Coffman want to be will determine whether or not they "go get her".

  4. spaceman65 says:

    Dear General Suthers:

    I don't work for you.

    Love, Hillary Hall.


  5. DenverMom says:

    Suthers may be right on the law, but why is he going to thes lengths.  It is a waste of his time and taxpayer money. Cynthia Coffman has never had an original idea.  She wll go along with whatever Suthers says.  

    • FrankUnderwood says:

      They need to appease their base.  The same folks who have given us Dr. Chaps, Ken "Go to A.A. and Gay Goes Away" Buck and Laura Waters/Woods.  Doesn't matter to Suthers et alia that it's a losing battle.  They just have to show their troops that they're still willing to fight the fight.


      • DenverMom says:

        Yes, but their base will vote for Cynthia anyway.   She needs to appeal to more moderate R's and independents and looking for a fight that may be costly is notagood way to do that.  Plus, why give Hall a quick deadline and deny her request for an extension?  They look bad.  


  6. ct says:

    Maybe Suthers wants to be a footnote in Colorado history–the AG/last of the haters; the Bull Connor of early 21st Century Colorado.  

  7. dustpuppydustpuppy says:

     Boulder County was acting under the authority of the 10th District Circuit's opinion striking down the anti same sex marriage law that was in hold in Utah. The hold did not apply to Colorado, and since this is the same issue before the 10th District that should be uniformly decided to Colorado, but did not place the hold. Effectively, with the strikedown of the Utah law, the uniformity of the lawsuits has to be applied to other states pending before the 10th.


    This is saying as an fictional lawyer…. 

    In other words (for you conservweenies0 – Suther's losing this battle, and is trying to "save face" but offering to query it. Let Suthers waste our taxpayer dollars, and make sure it's billiable directly to Suthers and the Colorado Republican Party for reimbursement.



    • FrankUnderwood says:

      make sure it's billiable directly to Suthers and the Colorado Republican Party for reimbursement. 

      Unfortunately, it doesn't work out that way.  20 years ago, when Gale Norton's office unsuccessfully tried to defend the indefensible Amendment 2, the taxpayers got to reimburse the plaintiffs in Evans v. Romer for their legal fees and costs.

    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

      All right Dust Puppy, I've given you a chance to correct yourself. You are consistently referring to the 10 District which means you don't know any better. It's the 10 Circuit. The federal District Courts are under the juristiction of the Circuit Courts.

      • spaceman65 says:

        And the 10th circuit includes Colorado, which is why the Boulder clerk can justifiably take the position that the 10th circuit's decision in the Utah case means that Colorado's same-sex marriage provision is unconstitutional, and hence not enforceable.  She has a lot more case law on her side than General Suthers.


        • Sorry – the 10th Circuit stayed its decision, which means that as far as the law is concerned, nothing has yet changed – Amendment 43 is still the law of the land until the stay is lifted and the judgement is finalized (and technically even then someone probably needs to put in a challenge to A43 to get a legal recognition that the 10th Circuit's ruling applies to it).

          It's more likely that the Supreme Court rules on the matter and invalidates all gay marriage bans than that the 10th Circuit decision becomes binding on Colorado.

  8. dustpuppydustpuppy says:

    Can't wait to see the Suther's expression when the justices of the Colorado Supreme Court denies cert for Suthers, allowing the 10th Circuit decision based on Utah stand (happy now? I got stuck in jury duty last week, and my mind was still on District Court… sorry)

    • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

      Since this seems to be the "educate dustpuppy in the law" segment of our conversation, I thought I'd mention that "denying cert." isn't what the Colorado Supreme Court would do.  A writ of certiorari is an order to a lower court to send up the record of a case for review.  In this case, the AG will petition the court to issue an order enjoining the clerk from handing out licenses and probably to declare licenses already issued invalid (although that may be a follow up).  To say no, the court denies the AG's motion for an injunction.

  9. FrankUnderwood says:

    Looks like General Suthers is going to be leading his troops on multi-fronts in this cultural war.   Burns, et al. v. Hickenlooper, US Dist. Ct. case # 14-cv-1817 was filed today challenging Colorado's state constitutional ban on same sex marriages and seeking to enjoin enforcement of the ban.  (And requesting an award of attorney's fees and costs.)

    • They won't get attorney's fees and costs, and the case will either be put on hold pending the outcome of the Utah case (Kitchen v Herbert), or adjudicated at the District level and then held at the 10th Circuit level. Pending rulings tend to do that.

      Should the Supreme Court not get or take Kitchen, then Burns will be the vehicle for the District Court or 10th Circuit to apply the 10th Circuit opinion in that case to Colorado's Amendment 43.

  10. dustpuppydustpuppy says:

    Burns et al will be thrown out and laughed out of court and [b]verboten[/b] to file any further suits related with the the constitutional ban which has already been overturned thanks to the 10th Circuit.



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