A county clerk who has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of Colorado's gay-marriage ban can continue, a judge ruled Thursday.
District Court Judge Andrew Hartman ruled earlier in the day that Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall can ignore a federal stay on a ruling from the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which found states cannot set gender requirements for marriage.
The judge said gay marriage is still technically illegal in Colorado but that Hall's behavior was not harming anyone. But he said all who receive a license should be warned that they could still be invalid if a judge finds after trial that Hall didn't have the authority to issue them.
Judge Andrew Hartman also noted that every judge — including one in Colorado the previous afternoon — in the past year has ruled that gay marriage bans are unconstitutional and that Colorado's prohibition is "hanging by a thread."
Hall has issued more than 100 same-sex marriage licenses since that ruling on June 25. Republican state Attorney General John Suthers sued Hall, the only clerk in Colorado who defied the federal stay.
Hall argued that despite the stay, Colorado's gay-marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution.
Judges across America have issued similar rulings this year in overturning state bans on same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to eventually rule on the matter.
Suthers said Hall's behavior was causing "legal chaos" while the issue works its way through the courts.
Pressure is growing for gay marriage to be legalized in Colorado after a judge ruled Wednesday that the state's eight-year-old ban on it was unconstitutional.
District Judge C. Scott Crabtree on Wednesday became the 16th judge to strike down a state's gay marriage ban in the past year, but he put his ruling on hold pending an appeal. He wrote that the provisions in Colorado law clearly violate the state and U.S. constitutions. "There is no rational relationship between any legitimate governmental purpose and the marriage bans," he wrote.
The ruling will be appealed by Attorney General John Suthers' office, which defended the ban.