WASHINGTON – As the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in two cases about same-sex marriage this week, Colorado’s senators point to their support of marriage equality and successful efforts to overturn the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
Tuesday’s case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, centers on California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state. Early reports characterized the justices as cautious and conflicted during Tuesday’s oral arguments.
Colorado’s Attorney General John Suthers signed a brief advocating that the Court sustain Proposition 8, according to the Denver Post. Suthers said he is defending Colorado’s constitutional gay-marriage ban from 2006, the Post reported.
Today’s case, United States v. Windsor, challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, D-Colo., signed a legal brief for United States v. Windsor earlier this month urging the Court to overturn DOMA.
“(Udall) hopes the justices see that our nation is stronger when we promote commitment and shared responsibility,” spokesman Mike Saccone said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Udall announced his support for gay marriage in August 2011, despite previously struggling with the idea, according to his October 2012 op-ed in Politico.
“But as time went on, I began to realize that gay couples just want to make the same promise of commitment and fidelity that my wife and I made so many years ago,” he wrote. “I thought about my own wedding day – one of the happiest of my life – and I began to think that there is no substitute for the unique, public promises I made that day in front of our family, friends and community.”
Bennet called for a pro-marriage equality plank to be part of the Democratic platform in 2012, said his spokesman Adam Bozzi.
“He believes discrimination in our marital laws or otherwise against any Coloradan or American because of sexual orientation is unacceptable,” Bozzi said in an email. “Two people who want to enter into a loving, committed relationship should be afforded the same legally recognized rights and benefits he enjoys with his wife.”
But Durango’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, said his spokesman Josh Green.
“However, he believes that all Americans regardless of orientation should receive equal treatment when it comes to visitation rights, estate planning or taxation,” Green said in an email.
Tipton supports domestic partnerships, Green said, provided it does not require religious institutions, private employers or private organizations to honor it against their will as marriage.
Tipton also thinks defining marriage should be a state concern, Green said.
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, is the most senior gay member of the House of Representatives, according to The New York Times.
In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed civil-unions legislation into law Thursday. The new law will take effect May 1, and it gives same-sex couples most of the rights identical to marriage under state law. But gay-rights supporters say they will continue pushing for marriage rights, saying the symbolic value of marriage matters to them.
If the Supreme Court makes a broad ruling in the California case and follows the Obama administration’s advice, it could invalidate Colorado’s new civil-unions law and upgrade it to allow same-sex marriage, based on the legal theory that civil unions are an unequal status to marriage under the law.