The Boulder County Courthouse in Colorado has been added to the National Register of Historic Places more than four decades after a clerk there made the unprecedented decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Former Boulder County Clerk Clela Rorex opted to issue licenses to six same-sex couples in 1975 before the state’s attorney general stepped in, directed her to stop, and declared the licenses invalid.
Rorex’s decision to grant the licenses came was influenced by her campaign for county clerk the year before when the local Democratic Party discriminated against her because she was a woman.
“As a woman, I’m asking for my equal rights,” Rorex said at a January 4 event marking the courthouse’s addition to the National Register of Historic Places, according to Boulder County News. “How can I deny someone else? It just felt like the right thing to do. I’ve never changed my mind. All these years, I never wished I hadn’t made that decision.”
Rorex said during an interview with NPR in 2014 that she did not anticipate the hateful reaction that she received when she issued the licenses.
“It was threats — people needed to kill me for doing this, and that kind of stuff,” she recalled. “And I had entire church congregations writing me that it would be Sodom and Gomorrah in the area.
It would take 39 years for Colorado to finally strike down its ban on same-sex marriage. One year later, in 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples must be able to get married nationwide.
The state’s new out gay governor, Jared Polis, was among those in attendance at the courthouse dedication. Some of the couples who received the marriage licenses Rorex were also on hand.
Other LGBTQ-related sites on the register include the Stonewall Inn, Julius’ bar, and Bayard Rustin’s residence, all in Manhattan, and Dr. Franklin E. Kameny’s residence in Washington.
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