First Latina, Openly Gay Colorado Supreme Court Justice

Following in her father's footsteps, Monica Marquez blazed a similar trail -- and a completely new one.

Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez is the first female Hispanic Colorado Supreme Court Justice and she is also the first openly gay jurist on the state's high court.

But she was quick to tell her colleagues that her allegiance is to the law, not any special interest group when she was sworn in Friday.

"On the bench, of course, my allegiance is to the law, not to any particular constituency," she said after she was sworn in by her father, retired Judge Jose D.L. Marquez, who was the first Latino appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Marquez, 41, is a Grand Junction native who attended Stanford and Yale universities.

Gov. Bill Ritter told the justices that he interviewed Marquez and determined she has a "deep respect for the rule of law." He said he was reassured she would not show preference.

"It's important not to do that for any interest group," he told the court.

At present, there are no major gay rights issues pending before the court, but there could be a court challenge if Colorado Republican lawmakers go ahead with their plan to introduce an Arizona-style immigration law.

Republicans are considering a long list of new immigration requirements, including controversial ones that would require that authorities verify the immigration status of all arrested people before they are released from jail and allow for warrantless arrests.

Damian Arguello, president of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, said Marquez has resigned as a board member. Arguello said he believes Marquez is objective.

Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a conservative think tank, said he is more worried about her opinions on Colorado's constitutional tax and spending limits after she won a state Supreme Court ruling that fees are not taxes requiring voter approval.

Caldara said gay rights are not a legal issue at this time.

Heather Draper, spokeswoman for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Community Center said Colorado lawmakers have passed five laws in recent years improving gay rights, including laws that allow same sex couples to designate beneficiaries, adopt children and bar discrimination in housing, but none of those issues are involved in pending litigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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