We have news this week from the Seventh Circuit, Wyoming, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Go with me below the fold for details on these developments.
But first, Federal District Court Judge Heyburn ruled Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional this week. He struck down Kentucky's ban on out of state same-sex marriages in February. This ruling requires Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages entered into in Kentucky. The ruling has been stayed pending appeal. You can read more about the decision here.
And, the Seventh Circuit granted the motion. My diary on this order is here.
BREAKING: 7th Cir grants emergency stay as to same-sex couple w terminally ill partner seeking marriage recognition. http://t.co/...— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) July 1, 2014
Today, the plaintiffs challenging the State of Wyoming’s refusal to permit same-sex couples to marry asked a state district court to declare that the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. The four couples and Equality Wyoming filed a motion asking the court to rule that Wyoming’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples violates the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Wyoming Constitution. No hearing has yet been scheduled for the court to consider the couples’ request.
The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit challenging Wyoming’s marriage ban on March 5, 2014. The couples include a university professor, a Major in the Army Reserve, a sheepherder, and an attorney. Many of them were born and raised in Wyoming.
The couples are Cora Courage and Wyoma “Nonie” Proffit of Evanston, Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston of Casper, Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson of Laramie, and Ivan Williams and Chuck Killion of Cheyenne. Wyoming Equality is the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Wyoming’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Its members include same-sex couples throughout the state.
The four couples and Wyoming Equality are represented by Cheyenne attorney Tracy Zubrod, the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP, the law firm of Rathod Mohamedbahi LLC, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
While [AG] Suthers acted in coordination with Gov. John Hickenlooper asking for a delay in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a Supreme Court decision, it did reveal a split in each party’s thinking.
According to the filing, Suthers, a Republican, believes the ruling by the 10th Circuit of Appeals was “incorrect.”
Allowing same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses before a Supreme Court decision “would invite a race to the clerks’ office, result in irreparable injury to the State, licenses issued under a legal cloud of uncertainty, and undermine the predictable and standard judicial process for testing the constitutionality of state laws,” the motion said.
Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Denver County Clerk and Recorder both went on the record in the motion saying they agree with the 10th Circuit’s ruling. Denver is part of a state court case and the clerk and recorder’s office says if the state judge “finds that Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional and issues his decision without a stay, (which Denver supports), we will issue marriage licenses until it is.”
“Today, we joined with the Attorney General and the county clerks in Denver and Jefferson counties to ask the federal district court in Colorado to declare the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional and to stay its ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court addresses this issue,” said Eric Brown, a spokesman for Hickenlooper.
“We understand there is frustration with the lengthy judicial process, but waiting until the legal process is finished will ensure that marriage licenses issued to same sex couples are not clouded by uncertainty. We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will take this matter up quickly. Equality for everyone can’t come soon enough,” Brown said.
“We are pleased to see a bipartisan group of elected officials coming together to overturn Colorado’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriages,” said Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado, an advocacy group for the LGBT community.
“The Governor, Attorney General, Jefferson County Clerk, and Denver Clerk have said in one bipartisan voice that they will not defend this discriminatory ban that hurts real Colorado families every day. However, we’re disappointed they’re not seeking to end it immediately. Colorado families deserve to have their freedom, liberty and protections without delay,” Montez said in a statement.
Tuesday, six couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban.
The couples are suing the state saying the ban is unconstitutional.
That ruling was the justification the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder used to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses there.
Suthers has said the licenses issued by the Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall are not valid and gave a deadline of Tuesday at noon for her office to stop issuing them. Suthers threatened legal action if Hall did not comply.
Hall has said she would continue issuing the licenses despite Suther’s threat.
Hall started issuing the licenses June 25. Suthers said the licenses are invalid because the 10th Circuit issued a stay on its own ruling.
It’s not yet clear how the motion filed Wednesday will affect Hall’s decision to issue marriage licenses.
Couples have been lining up at clerk’s offices in Boulder County to receive licenses despite their legal uncertainty. As of Wednesday evening, a total of 97 marriage licenses had been issued to same-sex couples.
Unlike the other case challenging Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban, the case filed Tuesday was in federal court. A ruling would apply to every county.
David Lane, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, said that a decision by a federal judge enabling gay marriage in Colorado could come within a month.
And, in Pennsylvania, the Third Circuit has dismissed the appeal by the county clerk who sought to intervene and appeal the marriage equality lawsuit in that state.
Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 9:59 AM PT: The Pennsylvania County Clerk has appealed to SCOTUS and asked for a stay of the marriage equality ruling. Justice Alito receives Third Circuit requests, but will probably present it to the entire court.