Colorado attorney general seeks end to 'legal chaos' over gay marriage

Colorado attorney general: Rogue clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses are creating 'legal chaos'

The Colorado attorney general will continue trying to halt the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in the state even though the governor has asked him to stop.

Atty. Gen. John Suthers told the Los Angeles Times that his job is to “defend the laws of my state,” which is why his office went straight to the Colorado Supreme Court on Monday, bypassing the appeals court, to ask for a ruling on the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage, he said. 

In an emergency filing, Suthers’ office also asked the court to immediately ban the distribution of same-sex marriage licenses, he said. A Boulder district judge ruled last week that the Boulder County clerk could continue issuing licenses, and they are also being issued in Denver and Pueblo.

Also last week, another district court struck down the ban on same-sex marriage, but the ruling was stayed pending an appeal. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which includes Colorado, struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage and stayed its ruling. But some clerks pointed to that ruling when they began issuing marriage licenses despite the district court's stay.

Suthers said without the rule of law, the “legal chaos” already created by rogue clerks would be exacerbated.

“I am not a naive person,” Suthers said. “I understand the emotion and excitement of what the clerks are doing … but civil disobedience is still disobedience of the law.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Suthers had a “candid talk” on the matter, but they are motivated by different things, Suthers said.

“The governor has political obligations that I cannot ascertain,” Suthers told The Times.

Hickenlooper’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Even though the licenses being issued could ultimately be ruled invalid, Suthers said he believes it is just a matter of time before more county clerks start issuing licenses.

“I have to believe there is a lot of pressure on clerks to issue licenses,” he said.

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