Colorado Supreme Court clears way for same-sex marriage in the state
Female minister performs a same-sex marriage ceremony (Shutterstock)

Colorado's attorney general told county clerks in the state to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on Tuesday after the Colorado Supreme Court lifted stays it had imposed in two related cases and cleared the way for same-sex nuptials.

Two Colorado counties not bound by those stays already began issuing licenses on Monday, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand lower court rulings declaring bans on gay marriage in five other states unconstitutional.

Colorado's Republican attorney general, John Suthers, said there are no remaining legal requirements that prevent same-sex couples from legally marrying.

"Beginning today, Colorado's 64 county clerks are legally required to issue licenses to same-sex couples who request them," Suthers said in a statement.

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall, whose office had been stopped from giving out licenses by the state's Supreme Court, welcomed the court's decision to dismiss the orders.

"This is a wonderful day for Colorado and especially for couples and their families who have been denied this fundamental right for far too long," Hall said in a statement.

The clerks of Pueblo and Larimer counties began giving licenses to gay couples on Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review U.S. appellate rulings that struck down gay marriage prohibitions in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Colorado falls within the same federal appellate region, the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit, as Utah and Oklahoma, so appeals court decisions overturning the bans in those states ultimately hold sway in Colorado as well.

Suthers had said after the U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday he will no longer defend Colorado's voter-passed constitutional amendment that defines marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.

On Tuesday, the attorney general said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will be required to register same-sex marriages in the state's official records.

Debra Johnson, the Denver County clerk, said she will begin handing out licenses for gay couples to wed.

"It's been a roller-coaster, but ALL loving couples can finally come into my office and be provided marriage licenses. #MarriageEquality," Johnson said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis and Keith Cofffman; Editing by Doina Chiacu)