Colorado judge strikes down state’s marriage ban; 24th consecutive win in 1 year

Today, July 9, District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree struck down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, marking the 24th consecutive ruling in favor of the freedom to marry (with no rulings against) since June 2013. See all of the marriage wins in court here. 

The ruling has been stayed for now, pending an appeal. 

Today's decision is in two consolidated marriage cases, Brinkman v. Long and McDaniel-Miccio v. State of Colorado, filed in October and February, respectively, by private counsel from Wilcox & Ogden, P.C.; Thomas Russell; Reilly Pozner LLP; Law of the Rockies; and Gutterman Griffiths PC. The cases involved more than ten same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in Colorado or respect for their marriage licenses from other states. 

In the ruling, Judge Crabtree explained how civil union - which Colorado has had in effect since 2013 - is a lesser, unequal form of family status that does not compare to marriage. He writes:

The fact that the State has created two classes of legally recognized relationships, marriages and civil unions, is compelling evidence they are not the same. If civil unions were truly the same as marriages, they would be called marriages and not civil unions. If they were the same, there would be no need for both of them. The fact that Colorado denies same gender couples the same right to apply for federal benefits that it grants to opposite gender couples is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

Read the full ruling here. 

Notably, Judge Crabtree was appointed by Republican Governor Bill Owens in 2001. He is the fifth Republican-appointed judge to rule in favor of the freedom to marry, following judges in New Jersey, Kentucky, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

Yet another court has concluded that there is no good reason for denying gay couples the freedom to marry, and has found marriage discrimination unconstitutional. It is time that Colorado’s gay couples and their loved ones be able to share in the joy and security that marriage brings, and time for the Supreme Court to bring the freedom to marry home nationwide. Every day of denial is a day of wrongful deprivation. Today’s latest victory in the Mountain West shows that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry.

Wendy Howell, State Director of Why Marriage Matters Colorado, applauded the ruling today and called on the state Attorney General to stop defending discrimination. Freedom to Marry has been proud to serve as a founding and leading member of Why Marriage Matters Colorado, the public education campaign to increase public support for the freedom to marry in the Centennial State. Howell said:

Today’s ruling, combined with the earlier decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, leaves no room for doubt that Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional and indefensible. With court after court recognizing the freedom to marry, their decision should be a simple and immediate one.

We call on Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and the other defendants to let today’s historic ruling stand and to drop, once and for all, their defense of Colorado’s unconstitutional marriage ban.

For information on all 75+ marriage cases currently working their way through state and federal court in 32 different states and territories, visit our Marriage Litigation resource.