Utah's Last Holdout Counties Are Now Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
All counties in Utah are officially issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Until Thursday, some Utah counties had refused to issue licenses to gay couples despite U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby's strike-down of the state's same-sex marriage ban.
Those counties included Box Elder, Utah, Piute, and San Juan County.
The holdouts said they decided to obey Shelby's ruling despite reservations and questions about their legal liability. Utah makes it a misdemeanor for county clerks to sanction a same-sex marriage.
San Juan County Clerk Norman Johnson said "what finalized it for me" was Gov. Gary Herbert's order to state agencies to comply with Shelby's decision and change procedures for the delivery of state services. To that end, the Utah Department of Workforce Services is recognizing gay couples for food stamp and welfare benefits.
For Johnson, Herbert's directive was the "final straw," together with a refusal Tuesday by the Denver-based appeals court to stay Shelby's decision pending an appeal from state lawyers.
Johnson said he felt like he was being dragged into granting marriage licenses against the wishes of voters who have kept him in office for 14 years.
"We have no choice," Johnson said Thursday. "The scales have tipped. It's not the way I want to see things go. But the law's the law, and I accept it. It's time."
Officials plan to appeal Shelby's ruling via the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; the appeal to the Denver, Colorado based court could be submitted as early as Friday, according to Utah attorney general's office spokesman, Ryan Bruckman.
In the meantime, go get married in EVERY county, Utah gays!