DENVER The Colorado attorney general filed a lawsuit in district court on Thursday against Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall in an effort to stop her from issuing same-sex marriage licenses after a regional appeals court ruling backed gay nuptials in neighboring Utah.
Hall has given out more than 100 marriage licenses since last week when the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals said Utah could not stop gay couples from getting wed, but stayed its ruling until the Supreme Court ultimately decides.
She rejected requests from Attorney General John Suthers' office to halt the practice pending the outcome of rulings by higher courts.
Since the 10th Circuit covers Colorado as well as five neighboring states, Suthers said the state's ban on gay marriage remained in force. He had threatened Hall with legal action if she did not stop voluntarily.
The state of Colorado permits same-sex civil unions.
"While we would prefer not to sue a government official, Ms. Hall's actions are creating a legal limbo for both the state and the couples whose relationships she wants to champion," Suthers said in a statement.
"That limbo could have tangible and unintended consequences."
A spokeswoman for Hall said her office planned to issue a statement later Thursday.
Suthers' actions came a day after his office filed a motion in Denver federal court asking that all same-sex marriage litigation be suspended until the issue is resolved by higher courts.
Six couples filed federal lawsuits this week in Denver challenging a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Suthers has said his office will file the same motion in state courts where similar cases are pending.
In Thursday's motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against Hall, Suthers asked a judge to rule on whether a county clerk has the authority to issue licenses if the practice deviates from current law.
In a companion complaint, Suthers asked a judge to rule that the licenses issued by Hall are invalid, that she stop issuing them, and that the appellate court’s stay be binding in Colorado.
A hearing on the case is set for July 9 in Boulder County District Court.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jan Paschal)