Thursday, July 24, 2014

Colorado Same-Sex Marriage Laws Invalidated With Only Limited Stay

A Colorado federal district court yesterday issued a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of Colorado's state constitutional and statutory provisions that deny same-sex couples the right to marry in Colorado and deny recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.  In Burns v. Hickenlooper, (D CO, July 23, 2014), the defendants (the governor, the attorney general and a county clerk) did not oppose entry of the injunction since the 10th Circuit in a case from Utah had already held same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. (See prior posting,) Subsequently the 10th Circuit also invalidated Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriages. (See prior posting.) Much of yesterday's opinion focused on the question of whether the court should stay its order while the Utah case moves forward on appeal.  The court refused, but instead merely granted a one-month stay in order for defendants to seek relief from the 10th Circuit.  In refusing a broader stay, the court the rejected the argument that U.S Supreme Court action summarily granting stays in other same-sex marriage litigation requires a similar stay here:
Based on the most recent stay, it appears to the Court that it may well be that a message is being sent by the Supreme Court. But this Court is not some modern day haruspex skilled in the art of divination. This Court cannot – and, more importantly, it will not – tell the people of Colorado that the access to this or any other fundamental right will be delayed because it “thinks” or “perceives” the subtle – or not so subtle – content of a message not directed to this case. The rule of law demands more.
Scotus Blog and AP report on the decision.  According to the Denver Post, Colorado attorney general John Suthers filed an appeal with the 10th Circuit an hour after the district court decision was handed down.