ST. GEORGE – With Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage pronounced unconstitutional by a federal judge Friday, same-sex couples across the state began to swarm county clerk’s offices for marriage licenses.
In Washington County, the county clerk’s office did not immediately issue marriage licenses until receiving legal input from the Washington County Attorney’s Office on the ruling and was told to proceed.
At around 4:30 p.m, the clerk’s office issued two marriage licenses, one to one female couple and one to a male couple before it closed for the weekend.
Lisa Hinkley and Adrian Durrant were issued the license, as were Michael Pendry and partner who asked not to be named.
Hinkley and Durrant were all smiles and they displayed copies of their new marriage license before leaving the clerk’s office.
Pendry said he was alerted about the ruling over the Internet from a friend in Salt Lake City. He contacted the county clerk’s office, who directed him to the county attorney’s office, which referred him to the lieutenant governor’s office, who sent him back to the county clerk. At the time, none of the agencies had heard about the ruling or its particulars.
He ultimately made contact with Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap shortly before 4 p.m. Belnap related his office had just received the 53-page ruling and was in the process of reviewing it. Belnap said the same to St. George News around the same time.
“Then, about 4:20 (the county clerk’s office) called me back and said, ‘We are releasing the licenses,’ and so we just got here,” Pendry said.
Pendry said he was happy to see same-sex marriage finally acknowledged in the state, and that rights and benefits previously reserved for traditional married couples are now available to all married couples.
Still, the idea he could legally be married in Utah now was still a strange concept, Pendry said. “It’s weird to see two men and two women finally do this,” he said. “You just wouldn’t think of that so many years ago, in Utah of all places.”
Utah’s Amendment 3 was stuck down by federal Judge Robert Shelby. He compared the state law to the old anti-interracial marriage laws of the southern United States and declared it unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In the wake of the ruling, same-sex couples across Utah went to their local county clerk’s offices to get marriage licenses.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office has filed for an an emergency stay of the ruling.
According to the Washington County Clerk Office, marriage licenses become effective immediately but must be used within 30 days from the date of purchase, or that license expires. The clerk’s office maintains a list of judges across the county who can act as marriage officiators on its website.
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