Hundreds turned away at courthouse near Salt Lake City, day after Utah same-sex marriage ruling

By George Chidi
Saturday, December 21, 2013 18:55 EDT
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Same-sex couple [Shutterstock]
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The day after a federal judge handed down a ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah, hundreds of marriage applicants found the single county clerk’s office that happened to be open for one hour Saturday.

All left disappointed, turned away at the Weber County clerk’s office in Ogden, after the county clerk changed his mind about opening for an hour to deal with the predictable influx of applications on the Monday following the ruling in light of the “security requirements” of opening a federal building.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Weber County Clerk Ricky Hatch personally handed out an apology letter to each person in line.

Officials at the Ogden office — about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City — had previously announced they would open between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to handle an influx of applications, after a federal judge declared Utah’s same-sex marriage ban invalid on Friday.

“I want to personally apologize for the confusion today,” Hatch wrote in the statement. “I intended to open the office on Saturday for logistical reasons in anticipation of a large volume of marriage applicants on Monday.

“I did not anticipate the security requirements of opening the county building.”

Meanwhile, Utah officials are rushing to bring a motion to stay the ruling of Robert J. Shelby, which invalidated Utah’s ban on same-sex unions. Utah’s acting attorney general Brian Tarbert said Friday that his office is “vigorously pursuing the appeal and we intend to bring a Motion to Stay before Judge Shelby at 9:00 a.m. Monday morning. If he declines to rule at that time, we have already petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit for a temporary stay pending Judge Shelby’s decision.”

It is conceivable that one or more couples could receive marriage licenses from a county clerk before either Shelby or an appeals judge could make a ruling to stay the decision. Hypothetically, some same-sex weddings may take place in Utah before another judge closes the door, leaving these couples in a legal limbo — and potentially with enhanced standing to make their case in an appellate court.

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