A huge decision this week by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to deny certiorari (review) by several lower court rulings regarding the legality of same-sex marriage means that all 10th Circuit states, including Colorado, must abide by a recent decision by a panel of 10th Circuit judges that same sex-couples have “the same fundamental right” to marry as heterosexual couples.
In response to the SCOTUS decision, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers filed motions Monday night to remove remaining legal obstacles preventing state county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Stays put in place by the Colorado Supreme Court were lifted slightly before noon on Tuesday, leading to Suther’s additional announcement that county clerks in Colorado now must issue same-sex marriage licenses.
“There are no remaining legal requirements that prevent same-sex couples from legally marrying in Colorado,” said Suthers in a press release statement. “Beginning today, Colorado’s 64 county clerks are legally required to issue licenses to same-sex couples who request them.”
While SCOTUS stopped short of establishing a constitutional right for same-sex marriage, its refusal to hear challenges to laws legalizing gay marriage effectively paves the way for legalization in 11 additional states, which would increase the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 30.
With a majority of states recognizing the rights of homosexual couples, it’s unlikely that SCOTUS will, “be able to put the genie back in the bottle,” Amy Howe, editor of the SCOTUSBlog, told NPR.
Public opinion polls further indicate that same-sex marriage has passed a major tipping point in the U.S. According to a recent Gallup poll, 52% of Americans would legalize gay marriage nationwide. A strong majority of young Republicans—the political party that has traditionally opposed gay marriage—also favor same-sex marriage, shows a Pew poll.
Good News for Colorado Same-Sex Immigrant Families
Debra Johnson, a Denver County Clerk and Recorder and longtime same-sex marriage advocate, said in a statement that, “After decades of patience, Colorado’s state capitol has finally been given the legal green light to stand with every loving couple. I am humbled to carry on her torch and continue the legacy of standing on the right side of history, and behind every Colorado family.”
Among the Colorado families that stand to gain from the legalization of gay marriage are immigrant couples. Same-sex immigrant families have been able to receive federal benefits, including immigration benefits, since the Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, many had to travel to other states to get legally married. Now that gay marriage is recognized in Colorado, same-sex couples living in Colorado no longer have to travel to another state to make their relationship legal.
To discuss in full the impact of Colorado same-sex marriage licensing on LGBT binational couples, please contact Boulder County immigration attorney Catherine Brown.