Just over a year ago, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Edie Windsor in a case brought by the ACLU, striking down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, at least 35 courts across the nation have ruled unanimously in favor of marriage equality, including local, state, federal and district courts in Colorado.
There is no longer any doubt that Colorado's marriage ban is unconstitutional. A substantial majority of Coloradans now support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, and it is shameful that marriage equality has yet to be fully realized in this state.
The only remaining obstacle to marriage equality in Colorado is Attorney General John Suthers, who has insisted on calling for stays and appealing all Colorado court decisions. In local media, he has claimed that he has no choice but to defend the ban, as if doing so reluctantly out of civic duty, even though leaders in both major political parties, including Republicans in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, have stopped defending bans in their states.
Now it is clear that Attorney General Suthers is on a personal crusade against the freedom to marry, not only willing to waste Colorado tax dollars defending the Colorado marriage ban, but also wasting our tax dollars in other states. Suthers has spent his time and our tax money organizing nine other states to file a "friend of the court" brief defending the marriage ban in Indiana. Colorado is not affected by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, where Indiana is located, yet Suthers has chosen that case to weigh in with truly shocking hypocrisy.
In Colorado, Suthers has asked the courts to delay implementation of their decisions because he claims that the matter needs to be ultimately decided by the US Supreme Court. In Indiana, Suthers makes a "states' rights" argument instead, saying it is not the role of the judicial branch to decide, as if he thinks the Supreme Court should leave it alone.
Suthers makes the insulting argument in the Indiana brief that all the judges who have ruled in favor of marriage equality have misunderstood the Windsor decision. He claims that only he and his staff truly understand it. That argument was emphatically rejected by Colorado District Judge C. Scott Crabtree earlier this month.
In his Indiana brief, Suthers attempts to equate same-sex marriage to polygamy or to marriage between adults and young children. He trots out the argument that the core purpose of marriage is reproduction. This ugly, dated argument excludes the marriages of couples who struggle with fertility issues and choose to adopt, couples who decide not to have children for a variety of reasons or couples who marry after menopause. It is also an argument that has repeatedly been rejected by the courts, including in Judge Crabtree's ruling in Colorado.
Clearly, even though he knows his attempts are futile, Attorney General Suthers will stop at nothing to flout the U.S. Constitution, delay justice for countless loving, committed couples, insult judges across the United States, and put his biased and poorly-reasoned views on national display. He also apparently doesn't care how much Colorado taxpayer money he wastes in the process. Is this what a Colorado Attorney General is elected to do?
Attorney General Suthers would do better to keep his focus on Colorado and to stop standing in the way of unanimous decisions by the courts, the clear preference of Coloradans in every current poll, county clerks who are eager to follow the Constitution, and all the couples who are in legal limbo or who have been kept waiting for years. The backwards ideas of one person should not hold up the freedom to marry for an entire state.