Marriage licenses issued, weddings had for same-sex couples in Washington County

Mark Chambers and Joe Pitti getting married outside of the Washington County Administrative Building, St. George, Utah, Dec. 23, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

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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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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

Mark Chambers and Joe Pitti getting married outside of the Washington County Administrative Building, St. George, Utah, Dec. 23, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Mark Chambers and Joe Pitti getting married outside of the Washington County Administrative Building, St. George, Utah, Dec. 23, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

 

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11 Comments

  • Bryce Scott December 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    And today, the Government smote Utah and denounced its dumb religious practices.

    And millions of voices cried out in victory for being treated with respect and dignity.

    AMEN

    • Craig December 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      AMEN! And now, Utah will get with the program and while NOT embracing same sex marriage, they WILL find a way to make a few more bucks off of Gays and Lesbians.

    • Woooo Hooo December 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      I could not agree more, I’m so happy to be witness to the history that is taking place in our great state! I sincerely hope that the marriage law holds up to all the Mormon lawyers and good ol boys who claim to be Christian but truly hate everyone and thing that doesn’t line up with their beliefs!

  • Lil' Giant December 23, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Divorce lawyers are celebrating in gaiety.

  • Another Guy December 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    This should come as good news for all the single and divorced women in St George who are desperate for a marital relationship but not finding one because of either the shortage of males of lack of quality males. Now they can hook up with each other! Wouldn’t it be something, if St George suddenly became the mecca for gay women?

  • marc December 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    What’s next ? what if some guy / girl wants to marry a sheep . This just put a Real Man and Wife marriage and made a joke of it

  • Sagemoon December 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Looking at all the pictures of those happy people brought tears to my eyes.

  • JOSH DALTON December 24, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Does this mean marijuana will be legal soon! And the Lottery!

    • ladybugavenger December 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Yeah, I’m tired of driving to Beaver Dam for tickets. I want the lottery here!!!!

  • Mikki December 24, 2013 at 10:06 am

    @Marc

    What an idiotic comment! How can you possibly compare two consenting adults entering into a relationship or marriage with a person and an animal?

  • Dan Mabbutt December 25, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    I know Mark Chambers and Joe Pitti. They’re great people and a credit to our little town. There never has been a reason why they shouldn’t have the same life together that my wife and I have.

    Warmest congratulations to Mark and Joe!

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