Washington County issues marriage licenses for same-sex couples after federal ruling

Entrance to the Washington County Clerk's Office, St. George, Utah, Dec. 20. 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

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.

 Adrian Durrant and Lisa Hinkley proudly display copies of their marriage license issued by the Washington County Clerk's Office, St. George, Utah, Dec. 20. 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Adrian Durrant and Lisa Hinkley display copies of their marriage license issued by the Washington County Clerk’s Office, St. George, Utah, Dec. 20. 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

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.

Related posts:

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Entrance to the Washington County Clerk's Office, St. George, Utah, Dec. 20. 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Entrance to the Washington County Clerk’s Office, St. George, Utah, Dec. 20. 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

21 Comments

  • Giuseppe December 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    It’s about time. Now hopefully this will stand and out last a lot of “traditional” marriage. Congratulations and best of luck to all same sex couples.

  • Warren December 20, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    This black-robed tyranny never stops, does it?

    Why should the citizenry bother to vote?

    If a civilization abandons all sense of morality, who then cares about law and order anymore?

    • Mike December 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      Your comment would be valid if EVERYONE in the state actually voted, but the sad truth is less than 60% in this state voted. Of course the argument could be made that if more of the people who are commenting positively about the turn of events actually voted this would never have been passed in the first place. But alas, the Church and Conservative Utah are better mobilized and can get the voter turn out. But as you can see, the winds of change are all around us. As the youth of today age and begin to vote we will see a big reversal and many of the restrictive laws against equality will be overturned. We are really entering an age of enlightenment.

  • Zorrina December 20, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Can’t wait to see if Bobbi Mack & Brooke Alexander show up for their marriage certificate!! Come on out & be proud.

  • Dorothy Engelman December 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I applaud this step toward true human equality in Utah and look forward to the passage of an anti-discrimination housing/employment bill in 2014. Congratulations to all my friends who have the same legal marriage rights that I do!

  • Real Life December 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Look. The people of Utah voted on this already, and the MAJORITY voted that gay marriage is not marriage. I happen to share their opinion, but that is beside the point. It was VOTED on and now a “higher court” is chopping it down. Why was it on the ballot in the first place? And before I am judged, by the way, I am as non LDS as they come.

    • JCF December 21, 2013 at 1:07 am

      @ Real Life: the majority of the people of Utah could vote for slavery, too—it doesn’t matter. Unconstitutional according to the ***U.S. Constitution*** is the bottom-line.

      Congratulations and blessings to all the marrying couples! 🙂

    • Steve December 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Agreed 100 percent. It is just too bad that the minority group of voters do not care. They have a chip on their shoulders living in Utah with Mormons. I personally moved here from California to get away from issues like this. I just wish people would honor the laws that the great people of Utah voted for.

  • Garrett December 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    There is no reason that same sex couples need to be married other then to flash it to society, this country is corrupt, if you read the bible you know the second people start thinking they are in control not god down fall happens and sets things straight, I also agree with the above comment what is the point in voting now days if every thing we vote for gets bi passed, If you know about the duck dynasty situation and how Phil got fired for voicing his opinion proves how messed up every one is, I do not hate gays but I do not approve of this.

  • 3am mave shopper December 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Oh warren put a sock in it, what’s going to happen when you finally get to heaven and you find out god is down gay people all along and its us dumb humans that got some information just twisted a 1000 years ago, how you going to feel then warren, pretty stupid

  • Gmom December 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    I find this somewhat ironic….considering that in order to be made a state in the first place, Utah had to ban polygamy….talk about hypocricy in the government on marriage equality right??? Had to be pointed out.

  • Chris December 20, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    A gay couple will never be equal because together they cannot procreate!!

    • JamesB December 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Very good point Chris.

  • simone December 21, 2013 at 2:07 am

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Amendment 1, U.S Constitution

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” ~Thomas Jefferson

    i think those two passages pretty clealy proves that one of the intentions of our founding fathers was to establish a so-called ‘separation of Church and State. I have never in my life heard an argument against same sex marriage that did not use the Bible as a main point of reference. Even the attorneys arguing against sex marriage in front of the SCOTUS could not provide one. If you or anyone else can think of one, please provide it because I would love to hear it.

    • Steve December 21, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Why do you think it only has to do with the bible? I do not read the bible or go to church. You keep making these LSD comments, but non religious people believe marriage should only be between a man and women as well.

      • simone December 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm

        Styeve, I think you need to read my final paragraph one more time. I will re-post it below:

        i think those two passages pretty clealy proves that one of the intentions of our founding fathers was to establish a so-called ‘separation of Church and State. I have never in my life heard an argument against same sex marriage that did not use the Bible as a main point of reference. Even the attorneys arguing against sex marriage in front of the SCOTUS could not provide one. If you or anyone else can think of one, please provide it because I would love to hear it.

        To sum up, i pointed out that I have never heard a “argument against same sex marriage that did not use the Bible as a main point of reference.”. No where in my comment did I say that non-religious people were for or against anything.

  • bUB December 21, 2013 at 2:18 am

    i was trying to think of a reason to care, but i really don’t care what they do.

  • Deborah December 21, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Peoples votes should not be allowed to break the law. Why have a constitution if people can vote to break the law? This country is a democratic Republic not a democracy. Our founding father establish this, so we wouldn’t have mob rule. Having a majority of people decide on laws trample on individual rights as the judge pointed out under the fourteenth amendment.

  • Roy J December 21, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I do not believe that up until this point any laws were being broken because no judicial precedent existed at the state or federal level. Neither were there any explicitly worded laws allowing gay marriage. Rather, there was an explicitly worded state law banning gay marriage. That law was voted in by a majority of those Utahns who cast a ballot, and that majority was something like 60%. State laws can in some cases be made subject to the federal law, but only when there is a federal law passed that requires state compliance, or when a federal judge establishes precedent in a case, whereby the interpretation of existing laws are changed. That being said, if the majority of citizens are unhappy with the result, and they very well might be, then they should avail themselves of the measures provided to them by law. Something concerned citizens should be aware of is that any precedent set by this appellate court is often the final say, especially if a case is heard en banc. This is partly because the Federal Supreme Court will hear only 1% of the total cases put before it this year. And other than a Federal Supreme Court decision, probably only an amendment to federal law could change this ruling. And that would take a consistent and concerted effort by the majority, (if that majority exists and is what people would like to say it is), supporting and voting in federal representatives and lawmakers who act in accordance with the will of their constituency. (Also, I simply cannot find whether this case was heard en banc or not! If it was not, then of course there is another alternative).

  • Dixielambs December 21, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    To those who think that anything decided by the majority should always be allowed, think about how the decision of 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner would turn out. The will of the majority isn’t always just or moral…..

  • chanel strickland December 21, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    To all of you complaing about same sex marriages. The lady in this article (Adrian) Is a family member of mine. An she is the sweetest person I know. She would NEVER EVER try and take away any of your guys “rights” or try and stop any of you from doing what will make you happy. Gay marriage does not harm ANYONE. And to the moron who said they only want to get married to flash it around. Why do straight couples want to get married??? Because they are in love and want to spend their lives together!!! So why dont you all GROW UP AND REALISE ITS THE 21ST CENTURY and open your eyes??? Wether two woman, two men, or a man and woman get married it doesnt effect either any of you. So if you dont like it get the hell outta the good old US of A!!!

Leave a Reply