Colorado Definition of Marriage, Initiative 43 (2006)
The Colorado Definition of Marriage Initiative, also known as Initiative 43, was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure specified the only recognized marriages in Colorado as occurring between one man and one woman. The "Definition of Marriage Initiative" amended the Colorado Constitution by adding a new section, Section 31, to Article II. Section 31 said, "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state."
Amendment 43 was one of two statewide measures that Colorado voters faced in the November 2006 election that dealt with the definition of marriage and civil partnerships. The other, Referendum I, would have authorized domestic partnerships, but it was defeated.
Federal appeals court ruling
On June 25, 2014, a three member panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down bans on gay marriage in the states of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. This was the first ruling made by a federal appeals court on this issue, which sets a historic precedent that voter-approved bans on same-sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment rights of same-sex couples to equal protection and due process.
The court states:
We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union. For the reasons stated in this opinion, we affirm. 
A recording of the decision can be heard here
Stay of decision
Implementation of the decision was immediately stayed pending anticipated appeals to either the full appeals panel or the United States Supreme Court. Despite the stay, the Boulder County Clerk began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples immediately, and stated that she planned to continue to do so. However, Attorney General John Suthers said that for the time being, the ban on gay marriage remained in effect and that any licenses issued during the stay would be invalid.
United States Supreme Court
On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case appealing the decision of the federal circuit court, thus allowing the ruling of the Tenth Circuit Court to stand and making same-sex marriage "presumptively legal" in Colorado.
|Colorado Initiative 43 (2006)|
|Overturned Case:Burns v. Hickenlooper|
Election results via: Colorado Secretary of State Elections Department
Text of measure
|“||An amendment to the Colorado constitution, concerning marriage, and, in connection therewith, specifying that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Colorado.||”|
Summary and analysis
The Colorado Legislative Council is charged with providing a summary and analysis of each measure on the Colorado ballot. ("The state constitution requires that the nonpartisan research staff of the General Assembly prepare these analyses and distribute them in a ballot information booklet to registered voter households.")
To describe Amendment 43, they said:
For a marriage to be valid under Colorado statutes, it must be: (1) between a man and a woman; and (2) licensed, solemnized, and registered according to established procedures. In addition, Colorado recognizes common law marriage between a man and a woman who live together and hold themselves out publicly as husband and wife. Common law marriages are treated exactly the same as licensed marriages.
Legal effects of marriage in Colorado. The marriage relationship in Colorado provides spouses with a number of legal rights, responsibilities, and benefits, including:
designated as a beneficiary;
- See also: Fiscal impact statement
The fiscal estimate provided by the Colorado Legislative Council said:
Groups supporting Amendment 43 included:
- The Colorado Family Action Issue Committee
- Coloradans for Marriage
Arguments in favor
Supporters argued that:
- "The public has an interest in preserving the commonly accepted definition of marriage. Marriage as an institution has historically consisted of one man and one woman and, as such, provides the optimal environment for creating, nurturing, and protecting children and preserving families."
- "A constitutional amendment is necessary to avoid court rulings that expand marriage beyond one man and one woman in Colorado. In Massachusetts, a statutory definition was not sufficient to prevent a court from requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages. Any change to the definition of marriage should be determined by the voters, not judges."
$1,376,486 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Amendment 43.
Significant donors included:
|Focus on the Family Action||$658,208|
|Focus on the Family||$388,496|
|Colorado Catholic Conference||$93,596|
Groups opposing the measure included:
- "Coloradans for Fairness"
- "Don't Mess with Marriage"
- The "Bell Ballot Action" group
Opponents argued that:
- "Language that limits marriage to opposite-sex couples does not belong in Colorado's Bill of Rights, which generally guarantees individual rights. Amendment 43 may be unconstitutional because it denies same-sex couples and their children the legal benefits and protections that are available to married couples and their children."
- "Adding the proposed language to the constitution is unnecessary because there is already a statutory ban in Colorado on any marriage that does not consist of one man and one woman. Additionally, federal statutes define marriage as between one man and one woman for purposes of federal laws."
$5,459,145 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "no" vote on Amendment 43. Since some of the committees that opposed Amendment 43 also played a role in other ballot measures on the 2006 Colorado ballot, it isn't possible to definitely know how much of the funds they raised went specifically to oppose Amendment 43.
Donors of $25,000 or more were:
|Gill Action Fund||$3,626,884|
|Jon L. Stryker||$550,000|
|Patricia A. Stryker||$250,000|
|Herbert M. and Marion O. Sandler||$50,000|
Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."
The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:
- Alaska Marriage Amendment, Measure 2 (1998)
- Nevada Marriage Amendment, Question 2 (2002)
- Montana Marriage Verification, Measure CI-96 (2004)
- Oklahoma Marriage Question 711 (2004)
- Oregon Marriage Measure 36 (2004)
- Utah Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Amendment 3 (2004)
- Kansas Marriage Amendment (2005)
- Alabama Sanctity of Marriage, Constitutional Amendment 774 (June 2006)
- Colorado Definition of Marriage, Initiative 43 (2006)
- Idaho Marriage Definition, HJR 2 (2006)
- South Carolina Amendment 1, the Marriage Act (2006)
- Virginia Question 1, Marriage Amendment (2006)
- Wisconsin Marriage Amendment, Question 1 (2006)
- Arizona Marriage Protection, Proposition 102 (2008)
- California Proposition 8, the "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" Initiative (2008)
- Florida Definition of Marriage, Amendment 2 (2008)
- North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage, Amendment 1 (May 2012)
Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:
- Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.
- Mississippi Marriage Definition, Amendment 1 (2004)
- Arkansas Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3 (2004)
- South Dakota Marriage Amendment (2006)
- Texas Definition of Marriage Act, Proposition 2 (2005)
The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:
- Nebraska Marriage Definition Amendment, Initiative 416 (2000)
- Louisiana Marriage Amendment, Question 1 (September 2004)
- Georgia Marriage Amendment, Question 1 (2004)
- Kentucky Marriage Amendment (2004)
- Michigan Marriage Amendment, Proposal 2 (2004)
- North Dakota Definition of Marriage, Constitutional Measure 1 (2004)
- Ohio Issue 1, the Marriage Amendment (2004)
- Tennessee Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Amendment 1 (2006)
The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:
- Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.
- Colorado 2006 ballot measures
- List of Colorado ballot measures
- 2006 ballot measures
- History of Initiative & Referendum in Colorado
- Colorado Blue Book on Initiative 43
- History of Initiative 43
- November 7, 2006 ballot measure election results in Colorado
- Coloradans for Marriage
- Archbishop Chaput's statement on Amendment 43
- Colorado State Legislative Council, "Ballot History," accessed February 25, 2014
- Amendment 43 and Referendum I -- Gay marriage and same sex parters' rights Denver Post, November 2, 2006
- Salt Lake Tribune, "10th Circuit Court upholds same-sex marriage," June 25, 2014
- LA Times, "Federal appeals court overturns Utah's ban on gay marriage," June 25, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- The Guardian, "Colorado Judge rules Colorado's gay marriage ban unconstitutional," July 9, 2014
- ABC News, "Appeals Court: States Can't Ban Gay Marriage," June 25, 2014
- Denver Post, "Boulder County begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses; AG says no," June 25, 2014
- The Guardian, "US supreme court decision paves way for sweeping expansion of gay rights," October 6, 2014
- Secretary of State elections office, 2006 Amendments and Referenda," accessed January 7, 2014
- 2006 Colorado Blue Book, Arguments for and against Amendment 43
- Follow the Money, "Donors for and against Amendment 43"
- "Follow The Money" Report on Spending For and Against Colorado Amendment 43
State of Colorado
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Treasurer | Commissioner of Education | Commissioner of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture | Executive Director of Natural Resources | Executive Director of Labor and Employment | Chair of Public Utilities |