County clerks issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples

Posted at 10:03 PM, Oct 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-07 09:15:53-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The short line at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office was easy Monday, considering how long Lynda Coleman and Alisha Matthews had waited to stand there.

“We've been together, gosh, I would say seven years,” Coleman said.

Just hours after same-sex marriage licenses could be issued in the state, the couple came to get theirs.

“There has been a lot of heartache involved in getting to this point of acceptance,” Coleman said. “And it feels really great to finally be considered decent human beings just for who you are and nothing less.”

The couple was one of several who made their way into the clerk’s office, either to perform a ceremony or just pick up a certificate.

"We were actually flying to Portland on Saturday to get married there next week, and then this came out today and we were like, ‘Well, why go to Portland? Let's get married in our home state,’” said Laekin Rogers, who married her fiancé amongst a small group of family and friends.

The last time gay marriage licenses were issued in Salt Lake County there were Christmas decorations on the wall. But now Oct. 6 is giving them much more reason to celebrate, as the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement brings finality to the same-sex marriage debate in Utah.

“We just wanted to have the same rights as everyone else, and the same benefits. We’re just super excited,” said Brina Becknell.

She and her fiancée Melissa Salazar wanted a marriage certificate for themselves and their growing family.

“It's just really important because I really haven't had a full family since awhile,” said the couple’s son, Jordan.

Today, they finally got it.

“For his age, he's very mature, very smart, and just so he can be here today is a huge deal. I love you so much,” said Salazar, fighting back tears.

In Salt Lake County, about a dozen were issued to same-sex couples on Monday, while other counties issued one, at most.

The numbers are a stark contrast to what the clerk’s office saw when the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was temporarily struck down in December.  On the first day, they issued more than 100 licenses to couples.

“There's not that urgency, this potential small window of time. They have a future to plan a wedding, and they don't have to dash in,” said Salt Lake County Clerk, Sherrie Swensen.

Within the next 24 hours, the state will issue new marriage license applications to county clerks. They will modify the current forms, which only contain the words “bride” and “groom.”

“We are just another couple getting married. We just happen to be two women. That is it,” said Rogers and her fiancée.