Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Couple suing Utah County for refusal to grant marriage license
Courts » Woman says she and partner have faced years of hostility.
First Published Dec 24 2013 10:05 am • Last Updated Dec 24 2013 08:50 pm

Shelly Eyre says Utah County’s denial of a marriage license to her and her longtime partner was "the last straw in a long line of insults."

Eyre and her partner, Cheryl Haws, have notified Utah County that they intend to sue because the county refused to grant them a marriage license — even after U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby reaffirmed Monday that gay marriages should proceed without a stay.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Utah County is among five counties not providing licenses despite Shelby’s Friday decision overturning Utah’s ban on gay marriage.

"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," Eyre said. "We wanted to get married here."

Eyre and Haws have been a couple for 8½ years and have had a commitment ceremony in Hawaii. While there, they gathered sea stones and shells to represent friends and family who could not make the trip. They took the shells and stones with them to the Utah County clerk’s office Monday, where they hoped to marry.

Instead they received a notice of refusal from County Clerk Bryan Thompson.

"This just put us around the bend," Eyre said, recalling years of hostility she and Haws have faced.

Eyre and Haws together reared Haws’ two youngest children of seven, Eyre said, but the community has struggled to accept Eyre as part of the family. When one of Haws’ sons died, Eyre’s name "mysteriously" disappeared from the obituary, she said. At the funeral, mourners who had known Haws for 20 years walked right past the grieving mother and refused to speak to her.

At another son’s Eagle Scout ceremony, Haws and Eyre sat down only to have several other guests stand up and move away from them.

"I was in the bathroom," Eyre said, "and heard people say, ‘I can’t believe those lesbians would come and desecrate the church.’ "

story continues below
story continues below

Even day-to-day business is disrupted, she said. Their insurance requires a separate policy for each woman, for example.

When the Utah County clerk denied them a marriage license, they decided to fight the decision.

The couple returned to the office with a notice of claim — a required document alerting a government agency that a plaintiff intends to sue.

Thompson confirmed Tuesday that he received the notice of claim and denied further comment.

Tribune reporter Matthew Piper contributed to this story.


Twitter: @erinalberty

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.