BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) – The former Boulder County clerk who trailblazed the practice of issuing marriage licenses to gay couples passed away back in June, but now county officials have taken steps to ensure the memory of her impact on both the LGBTQ community and the nation as a whole never dwindles.
On Thursday, the Board of Commissioners in Boulder County signed a proclamation that deemed July 23, 2022 as Clela Rorex Day across the county.
They made this declaration to honor Rorex, who back in late March of 1975 was working in Boulder as a county clerk when two men walked in and applied for a marriage license.
Clela was not clear on how to proceed, so she consulted the assistant district attorney to see if there was anything in Colorado’s laws that specifically prohibited awarding a marriage license to a same-sex couple.
“After having been so deeply involved in the women’s rights movements, who was I to then deny a right to anyone else? It wasn’t my job to legislate morality,” Clela said of her reasoning for consulting with the assistant DA’s office.
The response she received from their office was that no such prohibitive law existed in the Colorado statutes. So, she awarded the couple the license they had requested, and history was made.
Clela would go on to issue five more licenses that month as national news outlets circulated the groundbreaking story. This resulted in her receiving a deluge of threats and condemnation in the form of letters and phone calls to the Boulder County Clerk’s office.
“My son would sometimes pick up the phone and I could always tell when it was someone calling about the licenses because he would get this terrified look in his eyes. It changed our lives,” she said, reflecting on the troubling era her family endured.
Despite these threats, Clela maintained her advocation efforts for the LGBTQ+ community, habitually dedicating her free time to the Out Boulder County and participating in Pride parades.
Be sure to reflect next Saturday, July 23, when Boulder celebrates Clela Rorex Day, a genuine fighter for human rights from an era where it was much more challenging to be one.