Garnett Challenges Suthers on DOMA Ruling

From a press release this morning–Democratic Attorney General Stan Garnett is pouncing on a decision last week by a federal court in Massachusetts that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. What’s interesting is the framing: Garnett is approaching the issue of DOMA from a states’ rights perpective, directly challenging incumbent John Suthers’ silence on a matter that should be right up Suthers’ alley–one way or the other–based on his history. Full release follows, says Garnett, “[m]y opponent appears to support states’ rights on a selectively partisan basis, and only on issues that are in line with his own political ideology.”

Press Release

Stan Garnett

For Our Attorney General

“Tough. Fair. On Your Side.”


July 12, 2010

MEDIA CONTACT: Charlie Brennan

(720) 383-0133

Garnett Challenges Opponent on Massachusetts States’ Rights Decision

JULY 12 – An important decision was announced Thursday in Massachusetts when U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, is unconstitutional. Attorney General candidate Stan Garnett today agreed that states should have the right to decide important states’ rights issues, based on the Privileges and Immunities Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Garnett said, “This decision is an appropriate endorsement of states’ rights and local control, respecting the right of individual states to resolve important and controversial issues for themselves. As Attorney General, I will work to uphold the will of Colorado voters.”

In the past, John Suthers has justified his involvement of the Colorado Attorney General’s office in controversial and partisan litigation around the United States as being part of an effort to promote his personal view of “federalism” and “states’ rights.” Noting that Suthers has remained silent on last week’s important Massachusetts ruling, Garnett said, “My opponent appears to support states’ rights on a selectively partisan basis, and only on issues that are in line with his own political ideology.”

For additional information, contact Charlie Brennan at Also, please visit the campaign web site at

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36 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Gilpin Guy says:

    . . . selective partisan basis, and only on issues that are in line with his own political ideology.

    That is going to leave a mark.

  2. koop says:

    That is a nice piece of political jiu jitsu.

    Garnett scores with the states rights crowd while not landing on either side of gay marriage issue.  Suthers gets put on the defensive (again) without ever having said a word about an obscure Mass. trial court opinion.  

    So does Suthers state a position on DOMA, which seems like a lose/lose proposition, or stay mute?

    • OuiserBoudreaux says:

      Garnett has pledged to defend the definition of marriage in the state constitution that excludes the gays.  Hence, he promised to defend the ban on gay marriage (the famed “will of Colorado voters”).  Anybody whining that a gay marriage bans offends others parts of the US Constitution (the equal protection provision, for example) can shut the hell up, according to Garnett.  Ala Gale Norton, Stan’s a-gonna defend the voters’ wishes no matter how discriminatory they may be.

      Thanks, Stan, for drawing a clear distinction between you and the Republican AG on this hot-button issue!

      • Aaron says:

        you’re missing the forrest through the trees.

        Garnett knows that he’ll score solid political points from the LGBT community and it’s allies by calling for the repeal of DOMA.

        Garnett also knows that the most persuasive argument for repealing DOMA in this political climate is approaching it from a states rights perspective. Let the tea-baggers even try to argue that the federal government should enact nationwide social control laws.

        Is it mainly just posturing and political strategizing?

        Of course. But it’s damn good posturing and strategy.

        • OuiserBoudreaux says:

          …if the LGBT community is stupid, which I don’t think it is.  While it’s nice to call for the repeal/overturning of DOMA, that nice gesture is sort of cancelled out by Garnett’s pledge to defend the gay marriage ban existing in the CO Constitution.  The gays get neither the trees nor the forest under DOMA or the state constitution.  So, his criticizing one while pledging to defend the other is cold comfort, I would think.

          Is defending the state’s ban on gay marriage politically smart?  Probably.  But that position does not distinguish Garnett from Suthers.  It puts them in bed together…tres gay!  


            • OuiserBoudreaux says:


              But, in true fact, I don’t know who will attract my elusive vote.  I just pointing out, for them that care, that there doesn’t seem to be much substantive difference between Suthers and Garnett regarding the state’s ban on gay marriage.  Both will use your tax dollars to defend it.   You are welcome, people!

              • Ralphie says:

                But I don’t see you voting for the Republican.  Maybe it’s just my imagination.

                • OuiserBoudreaux says:

                  (I noticed your comments about Ritter’s dough)

                  Anyhoo, I don’t care much about the AG’s race, so I might all mavericky about it.  Just you wait.

                  • Ralphie says:

                    Vote in your own best interest.

                    • EmeraldKnight76 says:

                      the information is absolutely appreciated. For some of us DOMA and the constitutional ban isn’t an abstract. So while I will most likely vote for Garnett, I appreciate Ouiser pointing out where he actually stands on those issues.

                    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

                      is obeying the law. Keep in mind that if an AG can ignore the law to push for gay marriage, than an AG can also ignore the law and push to make gay relationships illegal.

                      I prefer the rule of law to the whim of the AG.

              • ajb says:

                it does at least 2 things:

                1. If Amendment 2 goes down, then there’s no DOMA to back it up.

                2. States generally recognize marriages performed in other states. If this ruling stands, then there could could be a federal challenge to A-2, based on some equal protection basis. While the AG would be legally obligated to defend the state, he could still lose, eh?

                • OuiserBoudreaux says:

                  Amendment 2 is so 1990’s

                  And for the AG’s obligation to defend the state when it’s sued, the obligation appears to be the tidal kind:  it comes and goes.  For example, Suthers refused to defend the state in the litigation challenging the statute freezing the mill levy for the schools.  Instead, Suthers agreed with those attacking the law and said so in court.

              • Aaron says:

                If you don’t realize that Garnett would be 100x better than Suthers on LGBT issues, I don’t know what to tell you.

                Obama’s AG is also defending DOMA in federal courts, even though he opposes it. Because that’s his job.

                Doesn’t mean Obama is a failure on gay issues and it certainly doesn’t mean that his views are remotely close to McCains. Same goes for Garnett.

                • Arvadonian says:

                  thus far, Obama has been pretty much a failure on gay issues, but that is a topic for another stream….

                  • Aaron says:

                    Obviously I would love progress be made on ENDA, DADT, UAFA, and DOMA repeal, but Obama doesn’t control congress.

                    Pelosi is getting the job done in the house, and Obama has done everything within his constitutional prerogative to work toward LGBT equality. Harry Reid just can’t whip his caucus (heh) into getting the job done.

                    People can bitch and moan about him not signing an executive order halting DADT, but I’m just grateful we finally have a president that knows better than to overstep his legal authority. I much prefer the professor to the cowboy.

                    • EmeraldKnight76 says:

                      I’m glad there is someone else that gets it. It seems so easy for everyone to blame Obama for not waving some magical wand. Democrats crucified Bush for overstepping Executive powers but are quick to tell Obama to do the same thing when it benefits them. The lgbt community should at least take a fucking breath and appreciate what’s been done so far before launching into criticism. As a gay man I can visit my partner in the hospital (if I can get outta the house) because of Obama. DADT is closer to being repealed than ever before. Clinton pretended to be our friend and we got DADT. Obama IS our friend and it’s going to be repealed.

                      Lt. Dan Choi should chain himself to the fence around Congress if he wants to be accurate. Activists should demonstrate outside the Capitol building. Perhaps shining the light on hypocritical closeted Republicans would be more effective than shouting at the President during a fundraiser.

                      I’ll stick with being grateful.

                    • Arvadonian says:

                      if I’m not too grateful for the pittance of being treated as partly human instead of a full, equal member of society.  Do we truly think so little of ourselves that we are satisfied to be granted the most basic priviledge of visiting a sick loved on in the hospital?  Are we that “hard up” for rights that we are satisfied with that and that alone?  

                      I was told very early on in my professional career that I should not let me mouth write checks my ass couldn’t cover.  I wish Obama would have heeded that advice with the gay community.

                      I’ve not advocated an executive order to overturn DADT; however I don’t think it too much to ask for that an executive order postponing any further discharges until congress acts.  Obama could move ENDA up on his list of priorities (Lord knows begging gays and lesbians for our money during his campaign was one of his priorities during his campaign—perhaps an equal urgency would be appropriate).

                    • Aaron says:

                      Obama simply doesn’t have the authority to ignore an act of congress. He can’t just stop discharges.

                      And moving ENDA up on his list of priorities? That’s something you should talk to Harry Reid about. Obama doesn’t decide what action congress takes.

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            upholding state laws in accordance with the state constitution.

            You want to change the state constitution go for it but Garnett is pointing out the selective nature of Suthers’ enforcement.  He wants to repeal Obamacare but does not consider DOMA federally mandated social engineering that usurps the state constitution.

            It seems to me that Garnett is stating the obvious that if you are the State Attorney Generatl then you are sworn to uphold the law even when you don’t agree with it.  Surthers doesn’t have a problem with ignoring the law when it isn’t aligned with his political dogma.

            • OuiserBoudreaux says:

              The AG also pledges to uphold the US constitution, which trumps the CO Constitution, don’t-cha-know.

              • Gilpin Guy says:

                The focus is on selective enforcement of the law based on an allegiance to ideological dogma.  Suthers has also done everything he can to thwart the will of the people regarding medical marijuana because he doesn’t like it.  The issue is about using the office of the Colorado Attorney General to bolster partisan political positions through selective enforcement.  The Colorado Attorney General is tasked with enforcing the laws without regard to political position.  Suthers crosses the line for partisan political advantage at every opportunity and was called on it by Garnett who pledges to run the office in a consistent manner without regard to political consequences.  Selective enforcement bad.  Consistent enforcement good.  Do you get it now or do I have to write it out on your palm?

            • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

              The job of the AG is to enforce the law, not his/her preferences. That is why I support Garnett – he believes we are a nation of laws.

      • Arvadonian says:

        The job of the Attorney General is to defend the laws of the state no matter how distasteful they may personally find the laws.

        • VoyageurVoyageur says:

          AG Gale Norton even defended the notorious Amendment 2 before the U.S. Supreme Court.  It was her job to defend the state constitution, all provisions of which are presumpively valid until and unless found to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution — which the Supremes found Amendment 2 (our little anti-gay rights spasm of 1992) to be.

            In our adversarial system of justice, you have a role to play as AG.  


          • Arvadonian says:

            about Gale Norton, she probably relished the opportunity to defend Amendment 2.

            • PERA hopeful says:

              I was in the AG’s office during that time, and thought she handled it about as well as she could have.  Usually cases are assigned to attorneys.  With Amendment 2, Gale had a meeting with the entire office staff, explained that it was her duty to defend Amendment 2, but that only volunteers would have to work on the case.  The attorneys who did not want to be involved weren’t required to work on the case.

              Plus, if I recall correctly, there were articles (Westword?) that said her first husband was gay.  If that’s true, she would probably be more sympathetic to gay folks.  At least, that’s what happened to me when my first husband told me he was gay.

    • ajb says:

      That’s a federal district court, koop. While it only covers MA, the next step is the 1st District Court of Appeals, which has a broader jurisdiction (5 states?). After that, it goes up to SCOTUS.

  3. Half Glass FullHalf Glass Full says:

    “John Suthers supports Gay Marriage”

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