Some Utah couples marked Valentine’s Day with flowers, some even tied the knot, but some gay and lesbian couples in Salt Lake County chose the occasion to bring attention to the fact that they don’t have the right to marry. Same-sex couples submitted applications for marriage licenses Thursday, knowing that they would be turned away.
Suzi Bleak and Tiffany Rose knew very well that their marriage application would be rejected. But the couple, who have six children together, still found themselves tearing up as the worker at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office explained that she couldn't accept the application, and gently offered them a copy of the statute prohibiting same sex couples from marrying in Utah.
“It’s just about love and commitment," said Bleak, "And to be turned down for that and to not have the rights that everyone has, it’s very disheartening, but at the same time, I have a lot of hope for the movement that’s happening today.”
There were many tears, as about a dozen same sex couples went through the same exercise. Leaving the office, they're greeted with hugs by family, clergy members, and community advocates. This is the first year that Utah is taking part in Marriage Equality USA’s day of action. The organization’s Executive Director Brian Silva traveled from New York to be in Utah on this day.
“There are hundreds of thousands of Utahns that support the freedom to marry for same sex couples. Sometimes we don’t get to hear from them as often, ” said Silva, “There’s a lot of places for work to be done, and Utah is one of them, but I think from the event today, we’ve shown that it’s maybe not as much work as we thought, that our friends, family, neighbors, our fellow congregants really do support us, even if we don’t often get a chance to verbalize that.”
Meanwhile, there are also several groups in Utah which have filed amicus briefs to the US Supreme Court in defense of traditional marriage – including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Utah Attorney General. In March, the court will hear arguments in a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act.
As for Bleak and Rose, they say they are hopeful they will return someday and have their marriage application accepted.