Updates on marriage equality cases in Colorado and Wisconsin

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Two counties in Colorado are now issuing marriage licenses to all, while Wisconsin has belatedly chosen to appeal the overturning of its marriage equality ban.

When Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage was overturned but stayed pending appeals, Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall elected to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples regardless. The state attorney general attempted to have her ordered to stop, but Boulder district judge Andrew Hartman refused, stating that the required burden of proof that Hall’s issuing the licenses to same-sex couples was causing “substantial harm” had not been met. Though he acknowledged that her deliberate defiance of Colorado’s constitutional ban was an act of civil disobedience, he rejected the idea that it was harmful to the state.

According to the Denver Post, Hartman said, “There is no tangible harm to the people of Colorado caused by Clerk Hall’s disobedience of state law and orders by the State. The State makes assertions that Clerk Hall’s disobedience irreparably harms the people by causing loss of faith in the rule of law.”

He continued, “However, the State has made nothing but assertions. An alternate public response is that the people of Colorado laud Clerk Hall for her pluck and/or condemn the Attorney General for his tenaciousness.”

After Hartman’s ruling, Denver County Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, whose job description includes the issuing of marriage licenses, posted an announcement on Twitter that her office would immediately begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

The legality of the marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples remains uncertain.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed an appeal of the ruling against the state’s marriage equality ban.

On June 6, of US District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the ban on the grounds that it violated gay couples’ rights to equal protection and due process. The deadline to file an appeal was July 21.

According to the Associated Press, the decision to file on July 11 was made in order to keep pace with Indiana.

Van Hollen said via email, “The goal of our timing is simple: to ensure that Wisconsin is placed on equal footing with Indiana, and that our constitution and laws are given timely consideration by the appellate judges.”

The case will next be heard in Chicago at the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

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