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Law School Case Brief

Israel v. Allen - 195 Colo. 263, 577 P.2d 762 (1978)

Rule:

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-2-110(1)(b) (1973) states in part that a marriage between an ancestor and a descendant or between a brother and sister, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood or by adoption, is prohibited.

Facts:

Plaintiffs, Martin Richard Israel and Tammy Lee Bannon Israel, were brother and sister related by adoption. They were not related by either the half or the whole blood. Martin and Tammy desired to get married to each other, but the county clerk denied them a license to marry based upon the Colorado Uniform Marriage Act. The Act prohibited marriage between parties who were related by adoption and not by blood. A complaint seeking declaratory relief was filed in the district court. The district court found that marriage is a fundamental right and that no compelling state interest was furthered by prohibiting marriage between a brother and sister related only by adoption. Thus, the court held that the provision of the Colorado Uniform Marriage Act, which prohibited the marriage of a brother and sister by adoption, was unconstitutional as a denial of equal protection. The court severed from the statute the words "or by adoption." The country clerk thereafter sought a review of the district court’s judgment.

Issue:

Was the provision in Colorado Uniform Marriage Act prohibiting marriage between parties who were related by adoption and not by blood, unconstitutional?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the provision in Colorado Uniform Marriage Act prohibiting marriage between parties who were related by adoption and not by blood was unconstitutional. According to the Court, the provision prohibiting marriage between adopted children failed to satisfy even the minimum rationality requirements. The Court determined that the prohibition provision did not further a legitimate state interest in family harmony. In fact, it was just as likely that prohibiting marriage between brother and sister related by adoption will result in family discord.

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