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Six Same-Sex Couples File Lawsuit Challenging Colorado's Gay Marriage Ban - VIDEO

Hillary hall same-sex marriage licenses

Yesterday, six Colorado couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The state voted to ban same-sex marriage in 2006.

The lawsuit, which states that Colorado "unlawfully denies the issuance of marriage licenses, and refuses to recognize the marriages of certain couples, based solely on the sex of the persons in the marriage union," comes during an ongoing battle in the state on the issue of gay marriage.

The plaintiffs are Catherine Burns, Sheila Schroeder, Mark Thrun, Geoffrey Bateman, Rachel Catt, Cassie Rubald, Breanna Alexander, Stacy Parrish, Angela Cranmore, Julianne Deloy, Karen Collier, and Denise Lord.

According to ABC 7 News Denver, the lawsuit, which names Governor John Hickenlooper, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, and two county clerks as defendants, follows the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's decision to strike down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Following this decision, on June 25, Boulder County clerk Hillary Hall decided to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Speaking to The Denver Post, Catherine Burns said that "most families in Colorado do not want this discriminatory law on the books."

The Court of Appeal ruling states that the Fourteenth Amendment “protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

According to Mari Newman, whose firm is representing the six couples:

"From a legal perspective, this case really ought to be a slam dunk and it's not often that lawyers get to say that. But here the 10th Circuit has been absolutely clear."

In June, Judge C. Scott Crabtree presided over two cases which argued that the gay marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution, according to ABC 7 News Denver.  Crabtree has yet to issue a ruling.

Watch the ABC 7 News Denver report on the new lawsuit, AFTER THE JUMP...

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What Was So Remarkable About the Tenth Circuit's Decision Striking Down Utah's Gay Marriage Ban

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511d4c82a970c-800wiTo regular Towleroad readers, Judge Lucero's opinion holding Utah's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional reads like so many other equality rulings in the post-Windsor world. But the June 25th decision is still remarkable and unprecedented. Kitchen v. Herbert did not just say banning gays from marrying is unconstitutional. Rather, it said the law is unconstitutional specifically because of Windsor

The opinion has all the trappings of many of the district court decisions that preceded it. First, the Court addressed the standing of the parties (the Governor and Attorney General of Utah) to appeal. I won't spend any time on that section except to say, they do have standing. Second, the court dispatched the Baker v. Nelson canard. As courts have argued countless times in the last 4 years, a 1971 order by the Supreme Court saying that a gay marriage lawsuit does not raise any federal question is outdated and no longer good law in the post-Romer, post-Lawrence, and post-Windsor universe. 

But the way the Baker argument got resolved was new. Utah, which was represented in Court by my old boss at Winston & Strawn LLP, Gene Schaerr, argued that the very principles of federalism and the separation between the federal government's role and the role of state governments that were reaffirmed in Windsor mandate that the Tenth Circuit hold to the Baker dismissal. In other words, Utah was acknowledging that the world has changed since 1971, a concession that the Prop 8 proponents and those supporting the Virginia gay marriage ban have refused to make. However, despite those cataclysmic changes, Utah argued that Windsor reminds us of the danger of the federal government intruding into the exclusive realms of the state. Therefore, since marriage is traditionally a state issue, the federal judiciary should stay out of a state's decision to discriminate against gays in that exclusive state matter.

The problem with this unique argument is that it is just plain wrong, derived, as it is, from a selective reading of Windsor. Justice Kennedy did indeed pay homage to the federalism concerns raised by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). For the first time ever, Congress had created a federal definition of marriage and no longer just accepted whatever the states had deemed as legitimate marriages. But, as I argued previously, the federalism discussion was merely a tool to show Congressional overreach and a reason for the federal courts to take more than a mere cursory once-over of the law. DOMA's federalism problem inspired Kennedy to be more critical of Congress's antigay motives and actions, which he found in violation of the federal constitution. It did not cause him to deny the federal role entirely.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Friday Speed Read: Utah, Boulder, St. Louis, Indiana, Recess Appointments, Buffer Zones

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

UTAH HEADING TO SUPREME COURT NEXT: Reyes

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued a statement late Wednesday saying his office intends to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the Tenth Circuit panel decision striking down the state’s marriage ban for same-sex couples.

BOULDER KEEPS ROLLING:

Boulder, Colorado, continued issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday, even after the state attorney general said the licenses are invalid.

SPECIAL MESSAGE:

From July 1 through Labor Day, Speed Read will publish on a weekly basis. When a breaking news story is of great importance, we will get it to you as quickly as possible.

MarriagesST. LOUIS BEGINS ISSUING LICENSES:

In a move reminiscent of former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004, officials in St. Louis, Missouri, on Wednesday issued marriage licenses to four same-sex couples, in open defiance of the state’s marriage ban for same-sex couples. The ceremony for the first couple was held in Mayor Francis Slay’s office, officiated by Municipal Judge Joseph Murphy. City officials said they would use the marriages to launch a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban, according to the St. Louis Dispatch. Meanwhile, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster launched a counteroffensive, filing a lawsuit Thursday against a St. Louis County official who granted the marriage licenses.

Gay_indianaWITHOUT A STAY, INDIANA MARRIES MORE:

Federal Judge Richard Young has still not responded to Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s motion for an emergency stay of the June 25 ruling striking the state’s marriage ban for same-sex couples. The Indianapolis Star reported another 200 couples married in Indianapolis Thursday, along with more than 100 in other counties. Zoeller on Thursday filed an appeal with the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

RECESS APPOINTMENT CURTAILED: Supremes

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision Thursday that narrows the opportunities for a president to make a recess appointment. Recess appointments have been a means for some presidents to get controversial nominees into office and have them confirmed later. President Clinton used a recess appointment to install gay philanthropist James Hormel as the U.S.’s first openly gay ambassador. President Obama used them twice for gay appointees in 2010 –Chai Feldblum as EEOC Commissioner and Richard Sorian as HHS Assistant Secretary. The high court’s decision, in NLRB v. Noel Canning, limits recess appointments to times when the Senate is in recess for at least 10 days. The decision was unanimous and written by Justice Stephen Breyer.

BUFFER ZONE STRUCK DOWN: J_roberts

The Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights submitted a brief in support of a Massachusetts law that attempted to protect women seeking abortions by creating a 35-foot setback or “buffer zone” for anti-abortion protests outside such facilities. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court on Thursday said such buffer zones violate the First Amendment. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion, McCullen v. Coakley, noting that public sidewalks are the “traditional public fora” for “assembly, communicating thoughts be­tween citizens, and discussing public questions” and “government may not ‘selectively…shield the public from some kinds of speech on the ground that they are more offensive than others.’” Roberts’ decision characterized protesters as seeking to hand out literature and to make offers of help to women entering the clinics. But the brief from GLAD, NGLTF, and NCLR noted the buffer zones are not to stifle expression but to protect the safety of women. “Women should be free to seek comprehensive medical care—including birth control and abortion—without the fear of harassment and violence from protesters,” said NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Boulder, Colorado Clerk Says She'll Continue Issuing Gay Marriage Licenses Until Forced to Stop

In defiance of Attorney General John Suthers, Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall is continuing to issue same-sex marriage licenses in Colorado as of this morning. This comes after Wednesday's ruling from the 10th Circuit of U.S. Appeals striking down Utah's ban on gay marriages. Despite Suthers claims that the licenses are invalid by default, Hall is undeterred.

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

Hall's office made the decision to enforce the Court of Appeals' ruling after they interpreted that issuing the licenses was now legal. Carolyn Tyler, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Suther, countered saying that because the 10th Circuit stayed its decision, the marriage ban is still enforceable, technically speaking.

"Couples across Colorado have been waiting a long time to have their right to marry the person they love recognized," Hall declared in a press release. "I want to act immediately to let them carry out that wish."


Thursday Speed Read: Tenth Circuit, Utah, Colorado, Indiana, DOMA Anniversary

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

TenthcircuitTENTH CIRCUIT PANEL STRIKES UTAH BAN:

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a 2 to 1 decision Wednesday, upholding a district court decision that Utah’s marriage ban for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The decision in Herbert v. Kitchen is the first from a federal appeals court on a state marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor. The ruling puts the Utah case closest to arriving at the U.S. Supreme Court. The majority stayed its decision pending an appeal to the high court.

COUNTY IN COLORADO RESPONDS: Boulder

Although the Tenth Circuit stayed its order finding a marriage ban for same-sex couples unconstitutional, Boulder County, Colorado, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Wednesday. The Tenth Circuit includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.  Two lesbian couples were able to marry before the clerk’s office closed for the day, according to the Boulder Camera. But Colorado’s Republican Attorney General John Suthers issued a statement saying the marriages are invalid.

SandlerINDIANA BAN STRUCK, TOO:

For the 15th time since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in U.S. v. Windsor, a federal district court judge on Wednesday ruled that a state marriage ban for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Judge Richard Young’s ruling on Indiana’s ban involved three consolidated lawsuits – Baskin v. Bogan, Fujii v. Pence, and Lee v. Pence. Young ruled that Indiana’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees to equal protection and due process. “In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs and refer to it simply as a marriage—not a same-sex marriage,” wrote Young. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

ZoellerINDIANA AG SEEKS IMMEDIATE STAY:

Indiana’s Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed an emergency motion seeking an immediate stay of Judge Richard Young’s ruling, striking down the state ban on same-sex couples marrying. But Young’s order enforced his decision immediately and, according to the Indianapolis Star, “hundreds” of same-sex couples rushed to courthouses within minutes after the decision was released around noon. The first same-sex couple to be married, said the Star, appears to be Craig Bowen and Jake Miller of Indianapolis. “There was a party atmosphere inside the clerk's office on Wednesday afternoon, where hundreds of people waited in line for a marriage license as [the Marion County clerk] kept the doors open until 8 p.m. to accommodate the crush.” Marion County alone issued 219 marriage licenses and conducted more than 150 marriage ceremonies before 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Scotus_edie_windsorFIRST ANNIVERSARY OF WINDSOR:

Today is the one-year anniversary of the landmark U.S. v. Windsor decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, striking down as unconstitutional the key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is also the tenth anniversary of the landmark Lawrence v. Texas decision, striking down laws prohibiting same-sex adults from having intimate relations. Both decisions have had enormous impact on the LGBT civil rights movement and yet both relied on just one vote.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Utah, Indiana, Heightened Scrutiny and Next Steps: Is Marriage Heading to the Supreme Court?

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

UtahOne year this week, the Supreme Court brought marriage equality back to California when it ended the Prop 8 case. It also declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and, thereby, ushered in a year of unbroken marriage equality victories indebted to United States v. Windsor. The Supreme Court was equally as active today, deciding, for example, that police must get a warrant before searching cell phones upon arrest and that the Aereo streaming television service is illegal under the Copyright Act.

Unless you count the impending Hobby Lobby case, a challenge to Obamacare's requirement that employers offer their employees health plans that cover contraceptives, which raises the highly relevant question of how big of a donut hole will be carved out by so-called "religious exemptions" to equality legislation, our right to marry did not have a date at the Supreme Court this week.

But much progress was made in the lower courts.

The Ninth Circuit has refused to rehear the case in which it held that antigay discrimination merits heightened scrutiny. This means that pretty much any gay rights case out of the most populous circuit in the country -- stretching from Montana to Arizona and from Nevada to Alaska and Hawaii -- will more than likely end with a pro-equality ruling. Heightened scrutiny makes it nearly impossible to justify discrimination, which brings us closer to our goal of universal equality.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed District Judge Shelby's ruling that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The 2-1 decision marks the first time a federal appellate court has ruled on a marriage ban in the post-DOMA world. The ruling, which included a stay pending Supreme Court review, sets the stage for several potential next steps, all of which may culminate at the Supreme Court.

And a district court judge in Indiana ruled that state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. And there was no stay attached to the decision, so for now, gay couples can marry -- and are marrying -- already.

Judge Richard Young of Indiana was right. He remarked how he had never seen anything like this before: In the span of one year, marriage equality went from a handful of states with a loud opposition to victory after victory after victory since the Supreme Court decided the DOMA case. 

In the coming days, I will summarize and analyze these decisions (and other legal developments affecting the LGBT community, but for now, let's discuss what happens next.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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