Saturday, July 26, 2014

168.2 - Good News: same-sex marriage advances in CO, OK, and FL

Good News: same-sex marriage advances in CO, OK, and FL

On another good news front, an area where there has been a fair amount of good news of late, same-sex marriage has come to Colorado, at least in principle. In this case it involves state courts, not federal courts. Earlier this month a state judge for Adams County determined that a 2006 Colorado constitutional amendment forbidding same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process. The ruling, as is common, was put on hold pending appeal.

However, the next day a federal judge refused to stop Boulder County from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which it has been doing since June 25. In response, Denver started issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Unfortunately, the State Supreme Court ordered the clerks to stop issuing such licenses on the grounds that while the appeals are going on the ban is still technically in effect. Which is why I said equality has come "in principle" - the initials rulings are there but the process must be played out. And remember, these are all stays. They are not defeats.

Meanwhile, diagonally across the country, last week, Luis Garcia, Chief Circuit Judge of Monroe County, FL, ordered the county clerk’s office to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That decision, too, was put on hold due to the state attorney general announcing an intention to appeal, but supporters of marriage justice called it "the beginning of the end" of the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

There are two other cases challenging the state's ban; one would only affect Miami-Dade county but the other, in federal district court, would apply to the whole state. Decisions on either or both of those could come any time.

Finally, remember when I said that when the 10th Circuit court of appeals upheld a lower court decision striking down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage that it probably also spelled doom for Oklahoma's ban, because an appeal of a decision overturning that one was on appeal to the same 10th circuit? Bingo: Last week, the appeals court upheld the lower-court decision, continuing the unbroken string of pro-marriage justice decisions across the country.

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