Eagle County clerk ‘going slow’ on gay marriage
July 16, 2014
Who’s on board?
These counties are currently issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples:
EAGLE — While several Front Range counties wrestle with the state's attorney general over same-sex marriage, Eagle County is taking a go-slow approach.
County clerks in Denver, Boulder and Pueblo counties have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in apparent violation of state law. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has fought the matter in court — a part of any attorney general's job.
District Judge C. Scott Crabtree last week ruled that a voter-approved 2006 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but stayed that ruling pending appeals to higher courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit also ruled against the state constitutional amendment.
CIVIL UNIONS PROVIDE LEGAL RIGHTS
In March of 2013, the Colorado Legislature passed a law to allow "civil unions" between same-sex couples. That law provided those couples with legal rights including hospital visitation and estate planning.
A MATTER OF TIME
Suthers last week acknowledged the fate of Colorado's law, like similar laws in other states, will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and he has also acknowledged it's probably only a matter of time before the state constitutional amendment is overturned.
Suthers recently asked the Colorado Supreme Court for expedited review of the amendment. From there, a challenge would end up in the nation's highest court. Several lawsuits about those laws are headed to the country's highest court.
With all the legal wrangling elsewhere, Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton is waiting to see how the situation plays out.
Simonton said no same-sex couples have requested a marriage license from her office yet, although she has fielded calls from people encouraging her to issue those documents.
Meanwhile, the Eagle County Attorney's office is reviewing the matter.
'THE RIGHT THING TO DO'
Simonton personally believes issuing same-sex marriage licenses is the "right thing to do," but said she wants the county to be on "legally sound" ground before doing so.
"We don't want to so something that's going to get us sued," she said.