Colorado Judge Strikes Down State Marriage Amendment, Stays Decision Pending Appeal

(Photo: Reuters/David McNew)A same-sex wedding cake topper is seen outside the East Los Angeles County Recorder's Office on Valentine's Day during a news event for National Freedom to Marry Week in Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 14, 2012.

A Colorado district court judge has declared a state voter-approved amendment defining marriage as being between only one man and one woman.

District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree of Adams County made his ruling on Wednesday, but immediately stayed his decision pending appeal.

"The court holds that the Marriage Bans violate plaintiffs' due process and equal protection guarantees under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," wrote Crabtree.

"The existence of civil unions is evidence of further discrimination against same-sex couples and does not ameliorate the discriminatory effect of the Marriage Bans."

In 2006, Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative that added an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as only being between one man and one woman.

Known as Amendment 43, it passed with 56 percent of the vote. In the same election, voters rejected an amendment allowing for same-sex "domestic partnerships" that would have legal benefits.

Colorado was one of multiple states in November 2006 to approve state marriage amendments and as with the others it was legally challenged on the charge that it was unconstitutional.

A total of 18 plaintiffs, or nine same-sex couples from Denver and Adams County, filed suit against the amendment.

"We are ecstatic. There is much cheering in our house … We waited a long time for this ruling," said one of the plaintiffs to The Denver Post.

The decision was one in over dozen similar cases across the United States to rule that state level bans violated the U.S. Constitution.

For the past several months, every decision regarding these lawsuits has come down against the amendments.

Regarding the latest Colorado decision, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued a statement denouncing Crabtree's reasoning.

"Rather than take his cues from the Constitution, he joined the judicial stampede by lower federal courts to override state marriage laws — something the Supreme Court was careful not to do in last year's Windsor decision," said Perkins.

"Judges can ignore the will of the people and they defy natural law in making same-sex marriage legal, but the will never be able to make it right."

For his part, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has stated that he intends to appeal the Crabtree decision.