Three Colorado counties are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, and five more have requested guidance from the state Supreme Court on whether to follow suit. That request is among the latest developments in an eventful few weeks for the future of Colorado's ban on same-sex marriages.
A state judge in Adams County recently ruled that Amendment 43, the 2006 measure to define marriage as between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. Attorney General John Suthers is appealing that decision, but in an interview this week, he acknowledged the law is likely to fall before long.
"I’d say I understand, full well, the emotion surrounding this issue. And I also understand and appreciate the sense of inevitability that Colorado will have same-sex marriage either politically or judicially. That certainly appears to be the case," Suthers said.
A final, full resolution will likely come from judges before long. But the rapid developments of the past few weeks have significantly changed the landscape for gay marriage in Colorado, and those changes mean different things to many people in the state.
CPR's "Colorado Matters" talked with people -- from a gay couple to the Catholic archbishop of Colorado -- to get their perspectives on the issue.
"Excited," but still waiting
Josh Peterson and Jeff Lubsen got married in Denver last week, after the clerk there started issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Lubsen has decided to take Petersen's last name, but the couple is struggling to get that done legally, showing how many things have to change as Colorado moves toward approving gay marriages.
So I said, let’s walk over to the Social Security Administration building. So we headed over there and present the marriage certificate and the clerk’s starting to enter our information. And then he says well excuse me, and he had to get up, goes back and gets a supervisor. Supervisor comes out, looks at the record, goes back and gets another supervisor. They all kind of come out and they were very kind, but they said, this is the first time we’ve actually tried to do a name change with somebody with a marriage license of same-sex in Colorado. So they had to actually run this by their legal team, and they said this could take four to six weeks. So, we’re kind of just waiting in limbo right now, but I’m excited to soon be a Peterson.
I don’t feel vindicated but I do feel validated. Validated to know that what I felt in my being at that time, that it was only right for gay couples to have a stable, normal family relationship if that’s what they wanted to do, has been recognized now by people all over the world, and that’s now thankfully what same-sex couples are getting.
Through my career, over the last 26 years... gays and lesbians have had this sense of, 'I can't do this.' When I first started teaching, I would go into a room of gay and lesbian folks, because I teach a lot of workshops, and I would say, 'So, who here has heard you can't have a long-term relationship?' It was universal; everyone walked around believing that to be true. So that is something I'm not sad to give up... [But] that internalized homophobia that we can't do it... I think that's still there. And so I’ll have plenty of work to do in my office supporting gay and lesbian relationships. That’s for sure.
Retired businessman C. Edward McVaney donated $100,000 to the campaign to pass Amendment 43, according to campaign finance records. The amendment, passed in 2006 with 55 percent of the vote, and made same-sex marriage illegal in Colorado.
I was coming from the perspective of, America has severely damaged traditional marriage and we’re suffering greatly as a national because of that. And if I could just fix one problem in America, I think the single most-important important problem in America is marriage and families... I really think we’re in a moral tradeoff here. It is anytime you get in a moral tradeoff you have to choose the greater good. And in this case, I think clearly the greater good is the preservation of marriage. And I think the interests of gay marriage is really trivial by comparison to the much greater issue of the importance of marriage and families in America.
Fundamentals are "washed away"
Samuel Aquila, the Catholic archbishop of Denver, represents the Catholic leaders in Colorado who supported the amendment outlawing same-sex marriage and, after this month's ruling that it is unconstitutional, said he opposed the ruling.
What has been washed away is what was fundamental for centuries, and that is the three goods of marriage recognized first in Roman law itself. Marriage as a relationship between a man and a women that first was faithful, secondly was a lifelong commitment and thirdly was for the procreation of children... It is evident from biology that a man's body is made for a woman's, and a woman's body is made for a man, and that it's only in that union that life naturally comes about.
In general, why marriage? Why are we tying -- particularly the government -- why is the government tying certain benefits like Social Security survivor benefits, or someone's ability to apply for immigration status, to marriage? What does that do to people and families who choose not to get married, who can't get married, whose primary relationship might be to someone that's their aunt or their grandmother, or choose not to get married for other reasons?