Gay Couple Sues Utah County for Denying Marriage License
A Utah couple is suing their county — confusingly, also called Utah — because the county is refusing to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Shelly Eyre said that the Utah County's refusal to provide a license to her and her partner, Cheryl Haws, is "the last straw in a long line of insults." That county is one of five in Utah refusing to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On Tuesday, the state's attorney general had to remind county clerks that it is their duty to issue the licenses, whether they personally agree with same-sex marriage or not. If the clerks refuse to do so, they may be found in contempt of court.
Eyre said that though the couple can go to another county to get married, they want to do so near their home. "The point of going to Utah County is that this is where we live and pay taxes and raised our kids and have a business," she said. "We wanted to get married here." Which, you know, sort of makes sense. Especially when the county is quite clearly violating the orders issues to it by the state.
But Utah County isn't the only one preventing gay couples from getting married. On Monday, the Cache County clerk's office didn't open for business at all, apparently in an effort to avoid having to issue licenses to gay couples. (ThinkProgress points out that a similar tactic was used by some counties to avoid racially integrating schools.) The clerk's office finally did open, for half a day, on Christmas Eve.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in Utah after a court overturned the state's ban on gay marriage. Since then, Governor Gary Herbert have tried very hard to get a higher court to overturn that ruling, but to no avail:
“Until the final word has been spoken by this Court or the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Utah’s marriage laws, Utah should not be required to enforce Judge Shelby’s view of a new and fundamentally different definition of marriage,” the state wrote in its motion to halt Friday’s ruling. But on Christmas Eve, Judges Jerome Holmes and Robert Bacharach ruled that gay couples can keep marrying while the state fights marriage equality in courts, concluding that “a stay is not warranted.” It’s the third time four days that a judge has ruled against the law, enacted via a ballot initiative and defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Because even in Utah, the Grinch can't totally steal Christmas.