Same-Sex Couples Can Now Obtain Marriage Licenses in Denver, Other Counties

Same-sex couples can once again obtain marriage licenses in Denver, thanks to a ruling issued today by the Colorado Supreme Court and on view below.

The high court lifted stays against Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson and the clerks in Boulder and Adams counties, allowing all three to begin issuing licenses. Johnson sent out a pair of celebratory tweets this morning: "Equality at last wins!" she wrote.

See also: The Fight Over Same-Sex Marriage Made This a Long, Hot Summer for Colorado AG John Suthers

Here's a look at Johnson's tweets:

Johnson began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this summer after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court that oversees Colorado, found Utah's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. According to city spokesman William Porter, Johnson issued 110 licenses in the week between July 10 and July 17. Those licenses represented about a third of all same-sex licenses issued in Colorado this summer.

However, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed its ruling on the Utah case until the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in. Yesterday, the high court justices declined to do so, effectively allowing same-sex couples in several states, including Colorado, to get married.

But for Johnson and the clerks from Boulder and Adams counties, there was one more hurdle: stays issued by the Colorado Supreme Court in mid-to-late July that prevented them from continuing to issue same-sex licenses. They had been sought by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who vowed to uphold a constitutional amendment passed by Colorado voters in 2006 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

But after the U.S. Supreme Court's action (or inaction?) yesterday, Suthers announced that he would no longer stand in the way of gay marriage in Colorado. "We will file motions to expedite the lifting of the stays," he said in a statement released yesterday.

Now, the state Supreme Court has done that. Read the court's ruling below.

And then go get married! The Denver clerk's office will make it easier tomorrow with the launch of a new pilot program called Wedding Wednesdays. Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., the clerk's office will offer free ceremonies to couples looking to get married.

"We're overjoyed for the fact that we can also officiate ceremonies for same-sex couples," Porter says. The timing, he adds, was a coincidence -- but a happy one. "It is a poetic coincidence and a coincidence that serves the fabric of our city."

Order of Dismissal

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar