The Boulder County Commissioners hearing room was standing-room-only on Friday January 4th, when a ceremony was held to acknowledge the County for some of the first efforts in the nation that advanced rights for the LGBTQ community. It began in 1974, when the Boulder County Clerk received an unexpected request that ended up changing her life. As KGNU’s Roz Brown reports, the celebration was well underway when an unexpected guest dropped by.
Two gay men requested a marriage license of then Boulder County Clerk Clela Rorex in 1974. Unsure of what she could do, Rorex sought legal counsel and after finding out there were no legal statutes preventing her from issuing a license, she did so in 1975.
“In a way it was a very easy decision for me to make once I found I could legally do it, I knew I was going to do it.”
A plaque from the National Historic Register was unveiled at the County Courthouse on Friday to acknowledge Rorex’s role in LGBTQ history. “I had no idea it would spread even worldwide by that time, it was like wildfire.”
Governor elect Jared Polis, who became the country’s first openly gay man to be elected governor, made a surprise appearance telling the crowd that there was no way he could miss the ceremony. “This is so exciting to acknowledge Boulder County’s role in the history of the equality movement, the very first same sex marriages in the entire country. Clela Rorex was truly ahead of her time.”
The state of Colorado has legally recognized same sex marriage since 2014 after the courts struck down the state’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage.