On Christmas Eve, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an emergency appeal from state officials in Utah, which in turn allowed same-sex marriages to continue while the legal process continues to unfold. There were, however, a handful of Utah’s 29 counties that simply did not want to go along with court orders.
To be sure, the larger legal wrangling is certainly interesting enough, but how long, exactly, could those hold-out counties expect to defy federal court rulings without punishment? Late last week, it became a moot point – as the Associated Press reported, they gave in.
The last of the Utah counties that were holding out on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples reversed course Thursday and decided to hand out licenses to all eligible applicants.Officials for the four holdouts – Box Elder, Utah, Piute and San Juan counties – told The Associated Press they made the decision to offer licenses to same-sex couples.County clerks say they had little choice after an appeals court Tuesday declined to intervene and halt gay marriage.
That’s true; their options had dwindled to one: follow the law.
Norman Johnson, one of the county clerks who had initially balked, added, “We have no choice. The scales have tipped. It’s not the way I want to see things go. But the law’s the law, and I accept it. It’s time.”
Looking ahead, the state is reportedly prepared to spend as much as $2 million in taxpayer money to keep up the legal fight against marriage equality. That’s quite a chunk of change to demand indefinite discrimination.