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Legal challenge to Colorado's same-sex marriage ban inevitable

9:36 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - A challenge to Colorado's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is a question of when, not if, according to legal experts.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.

Colorado has a checkered history with this issue. We saw the first civil unions ceremonies this year in Colorado, but we also have a ban on gay marriage in our constitution.

Neither of the rulings directly change the law in Colorado. However, California's Prop 8 is nearly identical to the gay marriage ban in Colorado.

"Since Colorado's law was not before the Supreme Court of the United States, it has not yet been held to be unconstitutional, but it's simply a matter of time based on the high court's ruling," 9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson said.

Even though the high court didn't find a constitutional right to gay marriage in the Prop 8 case, the language in the Defense of Marriage Act ruling makes it clear that once a state decides to have gay marriage, those couples have to be treated as equals to other married couples.

For now, gay couples in Colorado can only enter into civil unions - not marriage. That can change one of two ways: the ballot or the courtroom.

Gay couples may sue directly over the gay marriage ban, trying to get a similar outcome as the California case. Others plan to sue by getting married in another state and moving to Colorado - where the law will convert their marriages into a civil unions, taking away their ability to do things like file a joint tax return.

As for an effort on the ballot, we may see a serious campaign in the future, but it's unclear when.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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