Some Utah counties still won’t issue same-sex marriage licenses

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SALT LAKE CITY — After a federal judge suggested that county clerks may be breaking the law, several counties in Utah began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday it is encouraging county clerks to consult with their legal counsel to ensure compliance with Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling declaring Amendment 3 unconstitutional.

Those that continue to refuse to issue them could be held in contempt, a spokesman for the Utah Attorney General’s Office said.

“Those who are not issuing marriage licenses now could face potential problems if they continue to deny marriage licenses,” Utah Attorney General’s spokesman Ryan Bruckman told FOX 13 on Tuesday. “They could be held in contempt.”

But county clerks are not likely to be prosecuted because they could claim they were acting on the advice of legal counsel and had no criminal intent.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah said couples who are denied licenses could get a judge to seek a contempt charge in a civil lawsuit.

“The plaintiffs or parties that are aggrieved by this could ask a judge for contempt,” said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney for Utah David Barlow.

The Juab County Clerk’s Office reversed its position Tuesday and said it is issuing marriage licenses. The Carbon County Attorney’s Office also confirmed the county clerk issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple on Tuesday.

That leaves Piute, Utah, and Box Elder counties as those who have told FOX 13 they will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the potential for criminal charges. The San Juan County Clerk’s Office said Tuesday it has not been asked to issue a license to a same-sex couple, but would “consult with our attorney” if it was.

Piute County Commissioner Darin Bushman tweeted to FOX 13’s Ben Winslow their clerk is on vacation and no couple — gay or straight — was getting a marriage license. The tiny county typically only issues three marriage licenses per year, he said.

“It works something like this, if you want something from the clerk you wait until she’s in the office,” he tweeted.

The Utah County Clerk has given similar reasoning, and has denied same-sex couples married licenses since Friday. On Monday, county clerk Brian Thompson was served with a lawsuit for refusing to issue a license.

A protest was also held outside the Utah County Clerk’s Office on Tuesday morning over his decision.


  • Mr Mormon

    Bigotry is alive and doing quite well in several Counties. Their so called “Christianity” is suffering today as they are not able to “love one another”, but are overwhelmed with their hatred.

  • Trish Ramirez

    They can only pull these stunts for so long before the Feds step in clarify things. Then the clerks and their advisors will be held in contempt. Shame on them for putting their personal beliefs above what has been established through the due process of this nation as being the law of the land. They have been told – repeatedly now – that citizens cannot vote away the Constitutional rights of other citizens, regardless of what the majority says. It’s only a matter of time before they will have to do what is right and legal or face repercussions. And as it stands, LGBT couples only have to drive a few miles to get a marriage license that’s valid in the state anyway. These hold-out clerks are like small children putting their fingers in their ears and saying ‘I can’t hear you.’

  • Kevin

    They are just following in the footsteps of our dear leader Barak Obama. You uphold the laws you agree with and ignore those you dont.

  • Utah Red

    I wonder, what would the Feds do if the State of Utah decided to stop issuing marriage licenses to anyone? Would that action still be considered discriminatory?

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