PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo County joined Boulder and Denver in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday morning (7/11/14).
Pueblo County Clerk & Recorder Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz said he made the decision after carefully examining recent legal issues and constitutional rulings.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers went to court Wednesday to stop clerks from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, but a Boulder district judge ruled against him.
Ortiz said that following that decision, he consulted at length with the Pueblo County Attorney's office and decided that not issuing licenses could also put the county at considerable legal risk for denying constitutional rights.
"No court has upheld the constitutionality of marriage bans for 23 consecutive rulings - at state or federal levels all over the nation - that's significant and can't be ignored. Denying constitutional rights is an untenable position and I have to respect the Constitution, the courts and move forward," Ortiz said.
Jessie Finau and Stephanie Martinez are one of the first couples to receive their marriage license in Pueblo County. They said getting the document is a weight off their shoulders.
"Amazing, amazing, it's like a breath of fresh air and relief at the same time," Finau said.
Bea and Jamie Gallegos also received their marriage license. They said it was a long road to get it.
"I guess this is the fourth wedding," Jamie Gallegos said. She also said they had a civil union before signing the marriage document.
Megan Pakenham and Kellie Robinson planned to wed at the Pueblo County Courthouse on Friday. They were among the first to get a civil union license in Pueblo County on May 1, 2013.
"I can't see myself with anyone else, ever," Robinson said.
"I've been waiting five years for this," Pakenham said.
They've been together for five years. Pakenham said a marriage license will grant them rights that we're not protected under a civil union.
"When you only have a civil union, it makes you feel like you're a second-class citizen -- like your love doesn't matter," Pakenham said.
The pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Pueblo County disagrees with issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. "Marriage is between one man and one woman. That's what Jesus gave us as the example," said Clay Austin. "From a Christian point of view, that's the way marriage is defined."
Earl Stewart is the interim pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Pueblo. He said he doesn't agree with same-sex couples receiving a marriage license what is happening at the Pueblo County Courthouse.
" I will love people regardless, but I'm not going to endorse their behavior," he said.
If you want to receive a marriage license, it will cost $30.
Photos: Pueblo's first same sex marriage licenses