March 4, 2014 Updated: March 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm
DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper has come out as a supporter of gay marriage.
The Colorado Democrat has been a vocal backer of gay rights but generally stopped short of formally endorsing same-sex marriage. However, on Monday he provided a statement in support of a gay rights group that kicked off a campaign to bring gay marriage to Colorado.
"If all people are created equal," Hickenlooper said in the statement, "then by extension of law, logic and love, every adult couple should also have the freedom to join in marriage."
Hickenlooper last year signed a bill legalizing civil unions in Colorado, and spokesman Eric Brown said the governor has spoken at several gay marriage rallies. Hickenlooper is running for re-election this year. Colorado voters in 2006 banned gay marriage.
Gay rights groups on Monday pledged to pursue a ballot measure in 2016 to legalize gay marriage unless courts strike down Colorado's ban first. Two lawsuits are making their way through state court to do just that.
Judges have struck down gay marriage bans in several conservative states recently. The appeals of those rulings will be heard in a federal court in Denver.
Colorado gay marriage supporters say if they lose in court, they will go to the ballot box to overturn the state's ban.