New gay Colorado justice sees mixed reaction

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Relief and skepticism both are greeting Colorado’s next member of the state Supreme Court. Monica Marquez is the first Latina and the first openly gay jurist on the state’s high court.

Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter named Marquez on Wednesday to fill a vacancy on the seven-member court. Marquez is currently deputy Colorado attorney general and is past president of the Colorado Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Bar Association.

Marquez didn’t talk to reporters after being named to the court. But an openly gay state senator praised the choice as a groundbreaking sign of progress.

“There are barriers that are no longer there,” said state Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver. “We’ve learned to see past certain traits of people and see them for their competency and their character.”

But a conservative critic of the court tells The Denver Post that he suspects Marquez was not chosen because of her merits. Matt Arnold, director of the group Clear the Bench Colorado, said he was disappointed with Ritter’s choice.

“I think it is unfortunate that Gov. Ritter appears to have played more to special interests than judging the nominees on their merits,” he said. “He bypassed the most qualified nominees in favor of something else. I hope that she surprises us. I really do.”

Marquez, 41, is a Grand Junction native who attended Stanford and Yale universities. Her father, retired Judge Jose D.L. Marquez, was the first Latino appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Ritter referred to the milestones set by Marquez’s appointment but said that’s not why she was picked.

“It is not because Monica is a Latina or because she is gay,” Ritter said. “I chose her because of her analytical ability and her keen intellect.”

Colorado’s Republican Attorney General, John Suthers, praised Marquez.

“This lady is the consummate lawyer,” Suthers said. “In a judicial role, there is no question in my mind she’ll do an excellent job of applying the law.”

Marquez succeeds retiring Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey. Before Mullarkey leaves, the justices will decide among themselves who will succeed her as chief justice.

2 Responses to New gay Colorado justice sees mixed reaction

  1. Although I hope that Ms. Marquez’s appointment to the Supreme Court proves over time to have been a wise selection, Governor Ritter’s selection of Ms. Marquez should raise more than a few eyebrows. By having to explain that she was appointed not because she is Latino or gay, Governor Ritter confirms that these were the precise reasons she was appointed. It is disappointing that the selection of Judges in the state at all levels appears to have little to do with qualifications and more to do with filling the perceived right demographic need.

    Karl Berg
    September 9, 2010 at 9:52 am

  2. OK Mr. Ritter,

    Did you select Ms. Marquez because she is:

    o Latina
    o Gay
    o A capable jurist

    And to the public and gay community at large (call me insensitive), why do we have to continue to dwell on the bedroom habits of certain individuals or their orifice/phallic preferences? Golly, how many inter-species preferences should we cover?

    What if someone’s skin color is green? We all bleed red, we all poop brown (unless you’ve had a McDonalds Shamrock Shake), we all want the best for our families and community (sans socialism IMHO), so why don’t we just leave the divisive subjects out of the discussion?


    Christopher Colvin
    September 9, 2010 at 10:05 am