Update: Same-Sex Marriage OK'd By Attorney General After Supreme Court Punted

Update: Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has just announced that he will not attempt to block the state from beginning to issue same-sex marriage licenses, as had been feared by some observers after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear multiple cases on the topic.

Continue for Suthers's statement, followed by our previous coverage.

See also: A Same Sex-Marriage Plaintiff's Open Letter to Attorney General John Suthers

Here's the release from Suthers's office:

Same-Sex Marriage will be the Law in Colorado when the 10th Circuit Court and Lower Courts Lift Stay Orders

The United States Supreme Court this morning denied review of all seven of the petitions from the lower Federal Circuit Courts that arose from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. Because the 10th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over Colorado, struck down Utah and Oklahoma's ban, today's decision by the high court clears the way for same-sex couples to legally wed in Colorado once stay orders have been lifted.

The following statement is to be attributed to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers:

"We have consistently maintained that we will abide by the Supreme Court's determination on the constitutionality of marriage laws. By choosing not to take up the matter, the court has left the 10th Circuit ruling in place. We expect the 10th Circuit will issue a final order governing Colorado very shortly. Once the formalities are resolved, clerks across the state must begin issuing marriage licenses to all same-sex couples.

We will file motions to expedite the lifting of the stays in the federal and state courts and will advise the clerks when to issue licenses."

Original post, 9:32 a.m.: This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear multiple state cases on the subject of same-sex marriage. The result means that in Colorado and other states where federal courts have weighed in, same-sex marriage will likely become legal.

But that's not guaranteed, according to University of Denver law professor Kris McDaniel-Miccio, who was a plaintiff in one of the suits that sought to overturn Colorado's same-sex marriage ban; Adams County Judge C. Scott Crabtree concluded that the ban is unconstitutional but stayed his ruling. For this reason and others, she's unhappy that the Supremes have essentially punted on the issue.

Corresponding via e-mail, McDaniel-Miccio, who's currently a visiting research professor at the Univesity of Dublin's Trinity College School of Law, writes that she is "really disappointed that the Court did not have the courage to address this issue, leaving open a patchwork quilt of marriage rules in the States. So whilst Colorado may now perform marriages and even recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, same sex couples in approximately twenty states are still in a legal limbo that affects their rights, dignity and the rights of their children.

"Additionally," she goes on, "whilst the Circuit Court opinions bind the federal courts in those circuits [including those in Colorado, which fall under a Utah ruling], it is unclear whether it will actually affect how states respond. That is because federal court opinions are not mandatory authority UNLESS the State accepts lower federal court ruling. The only court where there is no choice is the U.S. Supreme Court when it rules."

In the meantime, McDaniel-Miccio doesn't mince words about her view that the Supreme Court's action, or inaction, is contradictory -- and she's got definite ideas about what might happen next.

"I am disappointed because the Court has weaseled out of its responsibility to deal with the fundamental right to marry that was articulated in myriad SCOTUS opinions since Loving v. Virginia," she notes. "What could propel the Court to address same-sex marriage is if there is Circuit Court that comes out against same sex-marriage. This is the classic situation when the court will reach down and grab up a case. And while I don't look forward to a denial in one of the Circuits, if this is the only way the Court will man and woman up...then so be it.

"Finally, the idea of leaving this to the states via plebicite is beyond offensive -- fundamental rights should not be determined by a show of hands."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts