Same-sex couple’s counter-suit calls Colorado’s definition of marriage ‘unconstitutional’

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

BOULDER, Colo. — Days after the Colorado Attorney General sued the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder in an effort to prevent her from continuing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, attorneys representing the clerk and one of the same-sex couples she married has filed a counter claim against the state and its attorney general.

The counter claim, filed by three defendants, Boulder County Clerk and Record Hillary Hall, Alex Lopez and Michael Maestas, alleges the state is trying to invalidate over 100 same sex marriages approved by Hall without giving the couples any notice.

“The State of Colorado is attempting to destroy their families,” David Lane, the couple’s lawyer, wrote in a press release. “Trying to invalidate marriages in court without so much as notifying the families involved is antithetical to ‘family values’ and ‘the sanctity of marriage’ under any standards.”

Lopez and Maestas were one of over 100 same-sex couples who were issued marriage licenses by Hall starting June 25, the day the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is located in Denver, struck down Utah’s ban on gay marriage.

The court, however, issued a stay on its ruling pending an appeal and possible further review from a higher court. It’s that stay that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers cited in his lawsuit against Hall, seeking to invalidate the marriage certificates issued by her office and any others so long as the stay remains in place.

“The motion we filed seeks to create a cease fire in the battles over same-sex marriage in Colorado,” Suthers said. “We encouraged Ms. Hall to join us on that path so that she, like her fellow clerks in Denver, Adams, and Jefferson counties, may be part of the orderly legal process that our system depends upon.”

After Suthers’ suit was filed but before this new counter-claim was made public, Hall said in a statement that she disagrees with Suthers’ interpretation of the law.

“Just because he says something’s not valid, that’s not really how the law works,” Hall wrote, insisting that the ruling from the 10th Circuit Court is the law of the land unless a higher court rules otherwise.

“I believe it is a waste of resources for the Attorney General to keep denying people their constitutional right,” Hall continued. “I think the least harmful and most sensible solution is to issue marriage licenses and avoid the potential of more civil rights violations while this plays out in court.”

Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman has set a hearing regarding Suthers’ lawsuit for 9 a.m. Wednesday.

In the counter suit, the attorneys for Hall, Lopez and Maestas make a specific claim regarding Colorado Amendment 43, a referendum approved by voters in 2006 that added a new section to Article II of the Colorado Constitution to define marriage in Colorado as only a union between one man and one woman. The suit claims the amendment is unconstitutional in that it violates the “constitutional due process and equal protection clauses of the Colorado State Constitution.”


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