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"Until I receive the further clarification that I’m seeking, the Utah County clerk’s office will not be making any policy changes in regards to [whom] we issue marriage licenses," Thompson said.
For Helen Wright, Utah County’s refusal was the second denial since Friday for her and her partner, who did not want to be identified. "I can’t understand why they’re denying it," Wright said.
Urgency » The couples waste no time, rush to make their relations official. > A6
Taxes » So what about filing jointly? > A5
Social media » Witnessing Utah marriage history and happiness in the news. > B7
Uncharted territory » But Thompson said he was not issuing licenses in Utah’s second most populous county for the benefit of couples as well.
"We’re in uncharted territory," he said. "Those issued licenses could have their marriages overturned" if the courts stay the decision.
Keri Burton and Melanie Lloyd weren’t buying Thompson’s argument.
"I don’t accept that," said Burton, an Orem resident.
"Other counties are issuing licenses," Lloyd said.
One couple is filing a lawsuit against Utah County. Shelly Eyre and Cheryl Haws, of Lehi, went to the clerk’s office on Monday, thinking licenses would be issued to them after Shelby denied the state its request for a stay. Instead they were given a notice of refusal.
"It’s the last straw in a long line of insults," Eyre said. "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. We wanted to get married here."
Eyre and Haws, who have been a couple for 8½ years, returned and filed a notice of claim, a required document alerting a government agency that a plaintiff intends to sue.
Same-sex marriage supporters were also disappointed by Thompson’s decision.
Berta Marquez, a Mormon who is also a nondenominational minister, had hoped to officiate for couples at the county building. Instead, she lamented what she saw as hypocrisy.
"As a Mormon, it saddens me that as a people who were persecuted for not fitting the majority marriage template, we are now being inhospitable to our LGBT brothers and sisters," Marquez said.
Brigham Young University law professor Lynn Wardle on Monday downplayed the civil liability of county clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses.
"Oh, heavens no," he said during a Trib Talk interview Monday, referring to civil liability. "To me that’s a bush league kind of quibble."
But ultimately, counties would run the risk of civil liability if they do not comply with the court’s order, said Paul Cassell, a University of Utah law professor and former federal judge. But, he added, county officials may have a little wiggle room if the 10th Circuit Court doesn’t issue a stay in a short period of time.
"If the 10th Circuit won’t stay [Shelby’s ruling] there is no basis at the point" for not issuing same-sex marriage licenses, Cassell said.Next Page >
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