How Boulder Instigated Same-Sex Marriage in CO
Boulder County Clerk Hilary Hall was given an order by CO Attorney General John Suthers to stop offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Boulder back in June 2014. Her refusal to heed this order instigated debate on the issue of same-sex marriage legalization in the state Supreme Court. The steadfast decision eventually led to victory for same-sex marriage rights in Colorado.
In 2004, Utah voters cast their lots in favor of banning same-sex marriage. Similarly, Colorado voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage in 2006. But Utah’s ban was ruled unconstitutional on June 24, 2015. June 25, 2014 Hall acted on her morals following the lift of Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage licensing. Marriage was ruled to be a right of the people. Ms. Hall issued same-sex marriage licenses the very next day in Boulder, CO.
Between June 25 and July 29, 2014 Hall issued over 200 marriage licenses to homosexual couples. As mentioned, Attorney General John Suthers had requested Hall to cease her illegal licensing of same-sex couples. This conflict caused the CO Supreme Court to lower a stay on the Boulder County Clerk’s office until the issue was settled in court. By this time Denver and Adams counties had joined the same-sex licensing movement, and had also been halted. But this was not a defeat.
Hilary Hall and John Suthers filed together to ask the state Supreme Court to lift the ban so that Boulder County could continue issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The Supreme Court accepted. In fact, they refused to hear appeals from other state courts regarding the ruling. Colorado officially ignored the same-sex marriage ban ruled by Utah, and any courts agreeing with it. In October 2014, the stay was lifted and Ms. Hall reopened her office to all couples requesting marriage licenses.
37 of the states had legalized same-sex marriage in some capacity since 2003. However, credit is due to Ms. Hilary Hall for creating a successful legal controversy which led to legalized same-sex marriage in Colorado by October 2014. The ruling for marriage as a right to all people, regardless of gender signaled changing attitudes in Boulder, as well as the rest of Colorado.
My inner philosopher noticed a possible correlation between the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and a change in attitude toward same-sex marriage. November 2012, Amendment 64 legalized marijuana for recreational use for those over 21. I wonder if the influx of people seeking marijuana shifted the political tide to aid this change? I am not sure, but I know that as of June 26, 2015 the US Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal for all states.
The Supreme Court overruled Baker vs. Nelson (1971), a case which ruled procreation and child-rearing as vitally important parts of the institution of marriage. The new ruling came from Obergefell vs. Hodges. This case concluded that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional because it denied citizens the rights of “Due Process” and “Equal Protection” granted by the 14th Amendment. In order to ensure that citizens had access to their rights, same-sex marriage had to be made legal.
Though slightly underwhelming given the other 37 states that had partially legalized same-sex marriage, Colorado did contribute to this ruling. Since Colorado’s ruling was spurred by the actions of the Boulder County Clerks Office, Boulder made a small yet important impact on this new concept of marriage. Boulder was ahead of the curve on this ruling, and hundreds of happy newlyweds now reap the benefits.