ST. GEORGE – The Washington County Clerk’s Office was packed with same-sex couples and their supporters Monday morning as they lined up for marriages licenses. Once obtained from the clerk’s office, the couples then filed out into the lobby or outside to have their marriages officiated by awaiting ministers.
Michael Pendry and Brian Struthers were the first gay couple in Washington County to receive a marriage license Friday and were married later that evening. They returned Monday to the clerk’s office to file the completion of the process.
“It’s incredible,” Pendry said, still finding it hard to believe he and Struthers were now legally married in Utah.
Struthers summed up his amazement over the whole affair in a single word, “Wow.”
He may well have spoken for same-sex couples across Utah who are currently swarming county clerks’ office where possible for marriage licenses.
Amendment 3 of Utah’s state constitution went into effect in 2004. It was a ballot initiative that, at the time, passed with an estimated 60 percent majority vote. Under the amendment, marriage was defined as being between one man and one woman only. All other unions were not recognized by the state.
Federal Judge Robert Shelby struck down the law as unconstitutional Friday afternoon, triggering a run on county clerks’ offices across the state by same-sex couples seeking to be married.
“We’re proud to be a part of this day, this celebration,” said Joe Pitti, who had just married his new husband Mark Chambers.
Chambers said it was wonderful to now have the rights and privileges that come with being married, such as hospital visitations, which were previously denied under Amendment 3. “There’s no words for it, right now, to be equal,” he said. “It’s awesome, it’s unbelievable.”
Chambers and Pitti have been together for 23 years and currently reside in Springdale.
“I wonder if Utah will look back on history and wonder why there was such a fight (over same-sex marriage),” Angela Hinton said, who was also just married in the lobby of the county administrative building. “We make a difference not because we’re gay or straight, but because we’re human,” she said.
Rev. Luigi Persichetti, an interfaith minister who officiated a number of the weddings, called the end of Utah’s Amendment 3 and the resulting marriages a blessing. “(Marriage) is a freedom and sacred right of all people,” he said.
“It was a really joyful experience” to officiate the marriages, Persichetti said. “To see the joy and happiness, it was really wonderful.”
The Washington County Clerk’s Office issued 22 marriage licenses between 8 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.
Issuance of marriage licenses and weddings are anticipated to continue throughout the day.
The U.S. 10th Circuit Court has shot down two motions from the Utah Attorney General’s Office to stay Shelby’s ruling, one of which was a motion put before Shelby Monday morning, also denied.
Newly-appointed Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has told the media that the attorney general’s office will prepare yet another motion to stay the ruling for presentation to the 10th District Court.
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- County issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples
- Federal judge strikes down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban
- Washington County issues marriage licenses for same-sex couples after federal ruling
- High court defers marriage question to states
- ON Kilter: The gay marriage debate is over
- On the EDge: Utah stance on marriage is hard to swallow
- Urquhart to reintroduce LGBT antidiscrimination bill
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