Denver - Colorado's Democratic governor and its Republican top lawyer asked a US court Wednesday to issue an injunction declaring their state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.
But Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers want the court to delay implementation of the ruling until the US Supreme Court decides the issue.
A federal appeals court last week ruled in a Utah case that same-sex couples have the right to marry. The ruling, which affects a number of states in the region including Colorado, was put on hold pending appeal.
Since then, Boulder County's clerk has been issuing marriage licenses to gay couples over Suthers' objections, and six couples filed a lawsuit in federal district court seeking to overturn the state's ban. Hickenlooper and Suthers' request for an injunction is in regards to that lawsuit.
"It's time for Colorado to get in line with the tide of history and allow same-sex partners to marry," said Mari Newman, the attorney for the couples.
Majority support for gay marriage
Gay marriage bans have already been struck down in several other states. The fight to legalise gay marriage began in earnest after the US Supreme Court struck down part of the Clinton-era federal Defence of Marriage Act last year.
Same-sex marriage now is legal in 19 US states, including several socially conservative ones. Recent polls show a majority of Americans support gay marriage. The issue of whether a state can ban it is expected to eventually reach the Supreme Court.
Suthers' office said he wants to resolve the question of gay marriage and avoid costly litigation.
But while Hickenlooper and Suthers agree there should be an injunction, they disagree on same-sex marriage. Hickenlooper said he believes last week's federal appeals court decision against Utah's gay marriage ban was correct. Suthers does not, according to his court filing.
Gay-rights activists applauded the signal from Suthers and the governor that Colorado's ban on same-sex marriages won't stand. But they argued that the marriage prohibition should be lifted immediately.