Boulder, Colo. (AP) – Former Colorado County clerk Clala Rorex, considered the first government official to issue a gay marriage license in 1975 and a pioneer in the gay rights movement, has died. She is 78 years old.
Rorax dies Sunday from recent surgery at Hospice Care Facility in Longmont Daily camera reported.
Rorex’s newly elected boulder county clerk sought her help in March 1975 when a gay couple was denied a marriage license elsewhere. Told the Associated Press in 2014 She saw it in parallel with the women’s movement and there was nothing in state law to prevent it.
The then-31-year-old agreed and, in the end, issued a total of six licenses to gay couples before the then Attorney General of Colorado ordered her to stop.
State and federal law did not recognize gay marriage at the time. Roerex recalled that he had little public support and did not challenge the Attorney General.
A recall attempt has been launched against a single mother and a University of Colorado graduate student, Rox. Suffering from chronic migraines and dealing with hate mail, she resigned halfway through her tenure.
Colorado legalized same-sex marriage in 2014 after a state court and a Denver federal court overturned a ban imposed by state voters in 2006. The 2015 US Supreme Court decision recognized fundamental rights across the country.
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Jared Police, Colorado’s first public gay governor, paid tribute to Roarex after learning of his death.
“The certification of her same-sex marriage (until the Attorney General closes her down) was a crucial moment in the long struggle for marital equality, which led to Obergefel v. Hodges in 2015, which legally legalized marital equality.” Police wrote on Facebook. “Many families, including First Gentleman Marlon Reese and myself, are grateful for the visionary leadership of a woman named Clala Rorex.”
Glenda Russell, a retired author and LGTBQ community historian, told the camera that Rorex had suffered a significant setback after the first license was issued.
“Nationally at the time, most people did not take it very seriously because they did not worry about it happening again, but in Boulder, the reaction was powerful and enthusiastic.
In later years, Rorax 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 law firm, Roerex was born on July 23, 1943 in Denver. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado before competing as a county clerk and recorder. After resigning as clerk in 1977, she received post-graduate degrees and worked as a legal administrator for the Native American Rights Fund.
Outbuilder County said it planned a celebration of life on July 23rd.
She was added to the County Court House National Register of Historic Places in Boulder where the licenses were issued.