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Gazette Premium Content A spectrum of reaction to DOMA ruling in Colorado

The Gazette - Updated: June 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm

In Colorado, organizations and individuals reacted in a variety of ways to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

The one thing everyone seemed to agree on is that the ruling will have no effect upon laws now on the books in Colorado. In a prepared statement, the Colorado attorney general's office said, "In striking down DOMA on a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court reiterated that Congress is not given the power in the U.S. Constitution to define marriage and that what constitutes marriage remains the exclusive province of the states."

Addressing the DOMA ruling as well as the court's decision not to hear a case concerning California's Propostion 8, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said: "We joined an amicus brief in the Proposition 8 case seeking clarity about the ability of states to adopt traditional definitions of marriage as Colorado's voters did in 2006. The Supreme Court did not provide such clarity today. We will continue to analyze the opinions and will be prepared to defend Colorado statutes and constitutional provisions in the future."

Carrie Gordon Earll, spokesperson for Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, said the group is both surprised and disappointed by the Supreme Court rulings.

"We define marriage as one man and one woman and that's where we stand," Earll said.

Focus on the Family was a major proponent of the 2006 amendment to Colorado's constitution defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. The Court rulings, Earll said, will not have an immediate effect on that law or this year's civil unions law.

The group conceded the court's rulings clearly ended debate over the definition of marriage.

"The Defense of Marriage Act in the federal government right now is one man and one woman and it appears that the Court has said, 'No, you can't do that,'" Earll said. "When the Supreme Court rules, that's kind of it on the question."

A number of groups reacted with unabashed joy.

- "Today is a historic step forward for civil rights," said Coloado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat. "The Supreme Court's decision affirms that all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserve the same rights and opportunities under the law that my wife and I enjoy."

- Brad Clark, executive director of gay advocacy group One Colorado, said in a statement that the decision reflects a mounting national sentiment supportive of marriage between same-sex couples.

"For thousands of married, same-sex couples, that decision means that they can protect each other and their families," Clark said. "With polls consistently showing that a majority of Coloradans support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, we also know that the people of Colorado have made it clear they are ready for a conversation about why marriage matters to all couples."

- Charles Irwin, director of the Colorado Springs Pride, a leading gay rights organization, said "This is really a big, big step, maybe we took three steps forward," he said. "I played arm-chair-legal-Supreme Court person for weeks and days," Irwin said. "When I heard them say basically DOMA was unconstitutional, I was floored. I was so surprised and very, very happy."

"The questions come a little bit later because people have to digest, this is such a big thing," Irwin said. "This is federal-level, this is 1,100 federal laws saying couples don't have equality out the window. Believe you me, there'll be horns beeping," Irwin said. "Equality is for everyone."

- Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver: "With today's decision, Americans in same-sex marriages will now be able to have their love and their families recognized by the federal government for the first time, but we're not done yet. Now that the Supreme Court ensured that the federal government can't discriminate against same-sex couples who are married, it is more important than ever that we continue the fight for the freedom to marry in Colorado."

- Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado: "Today is a great day for equality and the beginning of the end for official discrimination against lesbians and gay men. The Defense of Marriage Act is the last federal law on the books that mandates discrimination against gay people just because they're gay, and today the Supreme Court took down its core."

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