DENVER — A state judge struck down Colorado’s gay marriage ban Wednesday, saying the prohibition violated constitutional rights, but put his ruling on hold pending appeal.
Adams County District Judge C. Scott Crabtree said in his decision that Colorado’s prohibition, approved by voters in 2006, conflicted with the fundamental right to marry.
Crabtree is the 16th judge to void a state’s gay marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government has to recognize gay marriages in the states.
There are 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is now legal. Several other same-sex marriage lawsuits are moving toward the U.S. Supreme Court.
Two lawsuits, testing bans in Oklahoma and Virginia, have already been heard by appeals courts.
Responding to Crabtree’s ruling, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers (R) said it reaffirmed the fact that the fate of the state’s same-sex marriage law now rested with the Supreme Court. “Judge Crabtree provides additional clarity that until the high court rules on the issue of same-sex marriage, Colorado’s current laws remain in place,” Suthers said in a statement.
The attorney general of neighboring Utah said Wednesday that he would appeal directly to the Supreme Court a ruling by a federal appeals court last month that backed gay marriage in the conservative, largely Mormon state. If the Supreme Court decides to take the case, it will be the first time the justices consider gay marriage since they struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.
In a separate case, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on Wednesday denied a request from a Pennsylvania county clerk who was seeking a stay of a district court decision that allowed gay marriage to go into effect in the state. In that case, the state declined to appeal the lower court’s decision.
Also Wednesday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) announced that the state won’t recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages that were performed before a federal court halted a lower-court’s decision to lift the state’s gay marriage ban. Hundreds of couples were married from June 25 — when a U.S. district judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban — to June 27, when a federal appeals court stayed the decision.
Pence said the state was only abiding by the decision of the federal appeals court.
The Indiana attorney general’s office, which is handling the court challenges, had no immediate comment. Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said he believes that Indiana is wrong and that the marriages are legal.