John M. Becker

Marriage Update: Boulder, St. Louis, Mexico, Puerto Rico

Filed By John M. Becker | June 26, 2014 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Baja California, Boulder, Colorado, gay marriage, marriage equality, Mexico, Missouri, Puerto Rico, same-sex marriage, St. Louis

wedding_rings.jpgIn the 24 hours since we last checked in with marriage equality news -- and in addition to yesterday's developments in Indiana, Louisiana, and the Tenth Circuit -- some incredible things have happened! Here's a quick round-up.

Marriages Happening in Boulder, Colorado

After the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that states cannot prevent gay couples from getting married, Hillary Hall -- the county clerk in Boulder County, Colorado -- decided to go rogue and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And despite a temper tantrum from Republican Attorney General John Suthers, she's not backing down, saying she'll keep issuing licenses until a court tells her to stop.

Hall issued the following statement to KUSA-TV:

I am relying on the 10th Circuit's statement that marriage is a fundamental right. Because the Court stayed its mandate, officials in Utah will not have to implement the decision immediately. Even so, I believe the opinion is clear and it is important to act immediately. Colorado's prohibition on same sex marriage has treated our family, friends and co-workers have been treated as second class citizens for long enough. Unless a Court in Colorado or the U.S. Supreme Court tells me otherwise, I plan to begin issuing licenses.

According to the Denver Post, the marriages are still happening today:

Despite warnings from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers that the documents aren't worth the paper they are printed on, same-sex couples lined up at the Boulder County Clerk's office Thursday morning to get marriage licenses.

Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall began issuing the "invalid" marriage licenses to same-sex couples Wednesday after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Utah's ban on gay marriage. But in a news release akin to a fraud advisory, Suthers made it clear that the licenses are not valid. "That's their opinion. We disagree with it," Hall said Thursday morning. "We will be here issuing marriage licenses until a Colorado court or the Supreme Court tells us to desist."...

Hall said Thursday that when they reviewed the Court of Appeals' ruling, it was clear that marriage is a fundamental right for everyone after they consulted with their attorneys.

"We are prepared to defend that decision -- hopefully not in court," Hall said.

Marriage equality news from St. Louis and Baja California (Mexico) is after the jump.

Civil Disobedience in St. Louis

Yesterday, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay also went rogue, issuing marriage licenses to four same-sex couples in defiance of the state's marriage discrimination amendment. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the story:

Miranda Duschack and Karen Davis were first married in a 2012 spiritual ceremony where they jumped over a broom, an African wedding tradition also used today by some same-sex couples to signify vows that aren't legally sanctioned. On Wednesday the couple, who together run an urban farm in south St. Louis, stepped into history on the burgundy carpet of Mayor Francis Slay's ornate City Hall office by exchanging vows, and were given an official marriage certificate in a ceremony officiated by Municipal Judge Joseph Murphy.

"We're actually doing this," said an ecstatic Davis. "Can you believe it?"

As the question of the constitutionality of statewide same-sex marriage bans could soon spill into the marble halls of the U.S. Supreme Court, the city issued three other same-sex marriage licenses Wednesday. But officials will voluntarily stop issuing more as they pledge a court battle over Missouri's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage...

The four marriage licenses were signed by an emotional and misty-eyed Recorder of Deeds Sharon Quigley Carpenter, and four wedding ceremonies were held in Slay's office as the smiling mayor snapped cellphone pictures of the couples. Two men who were married Wednesday have been in a committed relationship for 39 years.

"It makes me proud as a citizen and as a mayor," Slay said.

Missouri Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster sued the city this morning; the status of the four marriages is currently undetermined.

Marriage Moves Forward in Mexico

Late yesterday Mexico's Supreme Court allowed a same-sex couple to marry in Baja California, the state immediately south of San Diego that occupies the northern half of the Baja California peninsula.

U-T San Diego reports:


According to a news release from the court, the ruling stated that a provision in the Baja California Constitution limiting marriage to heterosexual couples is unconstitutional.

"Excluding couples of the same sex goes against the right of persons to self-determination and for every individual's personality to develop freely," the statement said. "In addition, it implicitly creates a violation to the principle of equality, because it gives a different treatment to homosexual couples with respect to heterosexual couples."

The ruling allows the marriage of a Baja California couple, Víctor Manuel Aguirre and Fernando UrÍas Amparo, who were denied a marriage license at Mexicali City Hall a year ago. After a federal court in Baja California sided with the couple, the state legislature appealed the ruling to Mexico's Supreme Court...

Wednesday's ruling does not overturn the state ban, Méndez said. Other same-sex couples who seek to marry in Baja California would have to go through similar appeals if turned down for licenses, he said.

Individual couples in a number of Mexican states, including Chiapas, Chihuahua, Colima, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Tabasco, have also won the right to marry for themselves. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Mexico City since 2010.

Couples Join Marriage Suit in Puerto Rico

To top off an incredible day for marriage equality yesterday, four same-sex couples in Puerto Rico joined the island's first freedom-to-marry lawsuit. Via Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade:

Iris Delia Rivera Rivera, a former member of the Puerto Rico National Guard, and Maritza López Aviles have been together for 38 years and have a daughter. Zulma Oliveras Vega and Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro of Carolina also have a daughter. José A. Torruellas Iglesias and Thomas J. Robinson of San Juan, who have been together for 13 years, married in Canada in 2007. Johanne Vélez García and Faviola Meléndez Rodríguez of Guaynabo, who have been together for six years, tied the knot in New York in 2012.

Lambda Legal and Puerto Rico Para [email protected], a Puerto Rican LGBT advocacy group, also joined the lawsuit that Ada Mercedes Conde Vidal and Ivonne Álvarez Vélez of San Juan filed in March in the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico...

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla supports civil unions for gays and lesbians, but has yet to publicly back marriage rights for same-sex couples. The Democrat has signed a bill that added sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to Puerto Rico's anti-discrimination law and three other pro-LGBT measures into law since taking office in January 2013.

Oh, and today is the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's historic decisions striking down the heart of the Defense of Marriage Act and restoring marriage equality to California in the Prop 8 case.

What a difference a year makes, eh? Forward!

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