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January 2, 2014
Same-sex marriage decision causes flurry of new work

Same-Sex Marriages: There’s never a dull moment in the Clerk’s Office. As you are aware, a Federal Court Judge declared Utah’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional.

Normally, judges put a stay on a judgment to allow it to work its way through the courts. Judge Shelby did not do that, so late Friday, Dec. 20, same sex couples flocked to County Clerk’s Offices to get married.

Since the Tooele County Clerk’s Office is closed on Fridays, it didn’t hit us until Monday, Dec. 23. I was, however, working with Tooele County Attorney Doug Hogan all weekend to figure out where we stood. Emails flew fast between me and other county clerks, and Hogan and other county attorneys. The state pretty much left it up to the counties to decide what to do.

That Monday morning, I met with Hogan, the commissioners and our HR director. We had already determined that it was law, and until a stay is issued, we will issue marriage licenses. Since all of us took an oath to uphold the law of the land when we were sworn into office, the decision was made. I know other counties have made other decisions, but in Tooele County, we are upholding the law.

That Monday morning, we had a lineup of about 12 people waiting for marriage licenses. As the day wore on, it became more sporadic until the word got out to Salt Lake County that the line in Tooele County was short. We had 28 licenses that day, 24 for same sex  marriages. I have spoken to people on both sides of the subject who feel very strongly. Right now it is the law. If the law changes, we will deal with that, but for now, we are moving forward.

Combining Offices: A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to let the commissioners know your feelings on combining the clerk and auditor offices. Just to recap: Second class combined offices have a staff of 18-20. Our offices have eight people between the two; Currently none of the third class counties in Utah have combined offices (Tooele County is a third class county); and most of the counties with combined offices have found that because the clerk functions are so demanding, the auditor functions take a back seat.

Also, the clerk and auditor functions have no correlation. They are both busy at the same time. Combining offices will eliminate one elected official’s salary which averages $76,000. The eliminated person will need to be replaced, probably at a higher salary. Combining offices would get rid of the checks and balances that exist when the offices are separate.

Many of you have already emailed the commissioners, letting them know what you would like to see done. Thank You! Others feel like it won’t make any difference. As evidenced by the one vote difference in some of our elections this year, your letter may make the difference in what they decide to do. They do listen to you, so please speak up!

It is on the agenda for the Jan. 7 meeting. Please contact them before then. Commissioner Clegg – jbruceclegg@co.tooele.ut.us; Commissioner Hurst – jhurst@co.tooele.ut.us; and Commissioner Milne – smilne@co.tooele.ut.us. Thank you!

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