BOLDER, Cologne (AP) – Clara Rorex, a former Colorado county official who was considered a pioneer in the gay rights movement because she was the first civil servant to issue a gay marriage license in 1975, has died. He was 78.
Rorex died Sunday from complications from a recent surgery at a Longmond hostel care unit, the Daily Camera reported.
Rorex was a newly elected Boulder County clerk when a gay couple refused permission to marry elsewhere and sought her help in March 1975. She told the Associated Press in 2014 that she saw a parallel with the women’s movement and found nothing in state law to do so. prevents.
The then 31-year-old agreed and eventually issued a total of six licenses to gay couples before the Colorado Attorney General ordered her to stop.
State and federal law did not recognize gay marriage at the time. Rorex recalled that she had little public support and did not challenge the attorney general.
An appeal has been launched against Rorex, an unmarried mother and graduate student at the University of Colorado. Suffering from chronic migraines and dealing with hate messages, she resigned in the middle of her term.
Colorado legalized gay marriage in 2014 after a state court and a Denver federal court rejected a 2006 ban imposed by state voters. A 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling recognized the fundamental right nationwide.
Jared Polis, Colorado’s first openly gay governor, paid tribute to Rorex as soon as he learned of her death.
“Her certification of same-sex marriage (until it was closed by the Attorney General) was a pivotal moment in the long-running marriage equality campaign that led Obergefell vs. Hodges in 2015, which legitimized marriage equality nationally.” wrote Polis on Facebook. “So many families, including First Gentleman Marlon Reis and I, are grateful for the visionary leadership of Clela Rorex, a woman ahead of her time.”
Glenda Russell, a retired author and LGTBQ community historian, told Camera that Rorex had significant reactions after the first license was issued.
“Nationwide at the time, most people did not take it very seriously because they were not worried about it happening again, but in Boulder, the reaction was dynamic and bad. “He was struck with all the homophobia and heterosexism that the LGBTQ community faced,” said Russell.
In recent years, Rorex has advocated for gay and lesbian rights, speaking out in schools and expressing outrage at the slow pace of change.
According to Out Boulder County, an LGTBQ advocacy group, Rorex was born in Denver on July 23, 1943. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado before applying for a county clerk and recorder. After resigning from the secretariat in 1977, he obtained postgraduate degrees and served as the legal administrator of the Native American Fund.
A celebration of life was scheduled for July 23, Out Boulder County said.
The prefectural court in Boulder where it issued the permits has been added to the National Register of Historic Sites.