Happy gay marriage day to you and you and you! In honor of this momentous occasion, let's look back on the very local Boulder event that started it all.
As humble, yet physically sleek neo-hippies with 0 percent body fat, we Boulderites don't like to toot our own horn … but we kinda started gay marriage. And with the historic and amazing Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, Boulder's roots as the birthplace of marriage equality have never been more relevant.
In 1975, an intrepid and heavily badass Boulder county clerk named Clela Rorex did what no person anywhere had ever done before: granted the world's first gay marriage license. At the time, there was no legal statute against it in Colorado's constitution, but there was lingering and pervasive stigma against homosexuality nationwide which made her actions both unprecedented and bold.
As such, she completely understood the significance of what she was about to do when two men, Dave McCord and Dave Zamora, asked her for a marriage license.
"I was faced with a very profound type of moral issue," she said. “Would I discriminate against two people of the same sex when I had been so involved for the last few years of my life of fighting discrimination against women?”
After considering that for a second, she granted the license. After all, she thought, discrimination is discrimination. Following her initial license, she courageously continued to churn out marriage licenses to gay couples despite the growing outrage against her.
One of those couples was Filipino American Richard Adams and his Australian partner, Tony Sullivan, whose 40-year battle to simply live in the same place was chronicled in the documentary Limited Partnership, which aired on PBS last week. When Sullivan was facing deportation in the ‘70s and Adams asked for him to be extended a spouse’s visa, the U.S. government responded with a letter that read in part: “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.”
The situation seemed hopeless, but when they heard that Clela was issuing same-sex marriage licenses in Boulder, they paid her a visit as a last-ditch effort to stay together. Clela didn't even bat an eyelash when she heard their story, and a few hours later, they were married.
Here's a bit from the documentary that talks about Clela:
Clela was ordered to stop issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples, but she didn't stop. People even challenged her with the same snowball-effect rhetoric that bigots throw around today. An “old cowboy” looking to prove a point asked Clela to grant him a marriage license to his “best friend,” a horse named Dolly. Clela, as she explains in the clip above, asked him Dolly’s age. He told her 8.
“I laid down my pen and said: ‘I’m sorry. Dolly’s underaged,’” she remembers.
What a badass boss lady.
Since then, Colorado has had a rollercoaster relationship with same sex marriage. In 2006, Coloradans voted to ban it … but in 2014, it was legalized once again as Colorado rejoined the 37 states that currently allow gay couples to marry.
And now, the Supreme Court has made it clear that marriage is marriage and love is love, which we have to say, is rather rad.
Now if Boulder could only champion the "Save the Foreskin" movement too …