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Colorado judge overrules the people in deeming gay ‘marriage’ ban unconstitutional

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District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree
District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree State of Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation

A Colorado judge has acknowledged that the Supreme Court is likely to be the final decision maker on whether same-sex "marriage" is part of equal rights in America, even as he overturned state law on the matter.

On Wednesday, District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree overturned Colorado's state amendment which had preserved the definition of marriage. In the decision, Crabtree decried the position of same-sex ‘marriage’ opponents, saying that the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law.

However, Crabtree noted that Utah is challenging the decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that Utah's state amendment is also unconstitutional. With the 10th Circuit Court being a higher court than his district one, and the possibility of a Supreme Court decision on the Utah case expected, Crabtree placed a "stay" on his own decision. This allows Colorado's homosexual ‘marriage’ ban to stay in effect until a higher court makes a ruling.

According to Joe Grabowski, who heads communications for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Crabtree acted with more restraint than many other judges on this issue. "This judge at least has the foresight to know this issue probably is going before the Supreme Court," he told LifeSiteNews today.

Crabtree is the 16th judge to deem state bans on homosexual ‘marriage’ unconstitutional since the June 2013 Supreme Court’s Windsor ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act which barred federal recognition of homosexual ‘marriage.’

Grabowski said Crabtree was "wise to stay this decision, in order to not have the potential of causing a lot of chaos and confusion if the Supreme Court were to come down the other way on this. We think that's likely as not, given the logic of the Windsor decision."

Some conservatives have said the Windsor ruling this makes marriage a state issue, not a federal one. However, a number of states, including Utah, have seen federal judges not issue stays, causing same-sex couples who ‘marry’ to be caught in limbo if a higher court issues a stay.

Colorado has been a different battlefield than most on the issue of marriage. The state's Democratic governor and Republican Attorney General differ on the issue, which led to an agreement to ask a federal court to "freeze" the legal battle. Hickenlooper praised the effort as a money-saver for the state, while Attorney General John Suthers made the request in order to keep Colorado law consistent.

Additional difficulties come from the fact that Colorado is in the same Circuit as Utah, which will see either full 10th Circuit Court consideration or a Supreme Court appearance in the near future. It is thought that a battle in Colorado may be unnecessary, given the Utah case.

A Boulder, Colorado official is under fire for handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples against state law. None of those "marriages" are expected to be recognized by the state under the freeze.

Grabowski said that NOM "believe[s] that any judge that reads into the equal protection or due process clause of the Constitution and a necessity to redefine marriage" is incorrect. "At least, this judge has, wisely, stayed his decision."

"In the meantime, it's an erroneous decision which creates some notion of a right to same-sex 'marriage' in our federal Constitution, which we believe is a misreading of the constitutional law."

In 2006, 55 percent of Colorado voters approved the state's amendment. Grabowski said that "NOM takes a position that this should be a matter that works through the democratic process." He noted that until 2012, voters had always supported marriage "when the matter was put before them."

Grabowski said NOM "expect[s]" the Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage, both because of Windsor and "sympathy" shown by Supreme Court Justice Kennedy in the Court's recent decision on affirmative action. Kennedy, says Grabowski, showed respect to referendums in that case.

Many states have seen their marriage laws overturned by federal judges in recent months. Grabowski says the people should decide on what marriage laws are and are not. 

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