Former Boulder clerk was first in nation to issue same sex marriage licenses in 1975

BOULDER, Colo. - The battle over gay marriage in Colorado is de ja vu for one Boulder County woman who was at the forefront nearly 40 years ago.

Former Boulder County clerk Clela Rorex was the first in the nation to issue same sex marriage licenses to gay couples in 1975.

"I'll be the first to say I was really naive about what would follow," Rorex said. "I knew it would be controverial, but I wasnt prepared for the onslaught of hate. There were wishes I was dead."

She said people accused her of everything from lowering property values in Boulder to creating a 'Sodom and Gomorrah' in the county.

Rorex was 31 then and turns 71 on Wedneday. She said she never expected history would repeat itself, with the Boulder County Clerk taking up her fight decades later, and again becoming the only clerk in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- against orders from Colorado's attorney general.

Rorex said it was the attorney general at the time that stopped her, saying she was misleading gay couples into thinking they had more rights than the law allowed. She said she issued six licenses in about three months.

She said she's only talked to one of those couples since, Tony Sullivan and Richard Adams, a couple profiled in a documentary released this summer called Limited Partnership. The film, featuring Rorex, is about Australian Sullivan's struggle to get U.S. citizenship based on his marriage to Adams. He is still undocumented.

Rorex was at the premiere in Los Angeles and was featured on stage.

"I had expected to be emotional watching this film," Rorex said. "But by the time I got from my seat to the stage I realized, I'm just pissed off. I'm pissed off this has taken so long."

Forty years later, her anger, passion and hope haven't faded. And she says she wouldn't change a thing about the past.

"I've never said I regretted it or wish I had done otherwise," Rorex said.

Limited Partnership will air Sunday, July 27 at 7:15 p.m. at Denver's Sie FilmCenter. Rorex and filmmaker Thomas Miller will both attend.


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