A ruling last week in a Utah case is having an impact far beyond state lines and adding to the tension around the freedom to marry.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Utah's marriage-equality ban violates the U.S. Constitution. This decision upholds a lower court's ruling from last December.
The Tenth Circuit stayed its ruling pending appeal by the state of Utah. But Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall immediately began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, citing her obligation to obey the U.S. Constitution.
Dozens of couples have so far been wed.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has been trying to stop the weddings since they started. According to his office, the licenses are invalid.
Hall isn't the only local official to defy marriage-equality bans last week. The Mayor of St. Louis, Francis Slay, married four couples in his office. He has no plans to marry any more; instead, these licenses are precursors to a lawsuit against the state's marriage-equality ban.
A decade ago officials in San Francisco, Oregon and New York took similar actions: They began issuing licenses despite laws that banned marriage equality. In those cases the licenses were invalidated by courts.
But a lot has changed over the last decade, and there's no telling how judges will treat the latest round of licenses. With over a dozen rulings in favor of the freedom to marry in just the last year, it's possible that these latest actions could open the door to marriage for all.
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