It all fell into place within hours for two people in Price that have been together for four years. Late Monday afternoon, Carbon County joined 21 other counties in Utah in issuing marriage licences to same sex couples. Annalee Howland and Rickelle Limb were the first in the county to apply.
With the worry that an emergency stay could be issued at any moment, Howland and Limb quickly gathered a small group of family and friends to make it legal. They were married under the stars, amid the Christmas decorations at the Price City Peace Gardens. With Christmas music playing in the background, Shawna Popejoy officiated the ceremony.
Feelings remain intense on both sides of this issue. The recent ruling has done little to settle the debate. In 2004, Amendment 3 on the ballot in Utah defined marriage as a union between one women and one man. That measure passed by a 66 percent margin. Last Friday, Federal Judge Robert J. Shelby decided that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.
A flurry of legal filings by Utah have ensued. Governor Gary Herbert and the Attorney General’s Office have vowed to continue the fight.
Monday night, all the politics of the issue were put behind them as Howland and Limb exchanged rings and made history in Carbon County. Howland grew up in Carbon County and Limb is from Southern Utah.
“I am nervous on how others might perceive this, especially since I work with the public, ” Howland said, “But then I am so honored to be able to marry the one I love, who has supported me through the last four years. I know of too many still living in our community that are not able to come out yet. I am representing a community of people that has felt non-existent, it is not discussed,”
Howland spoke briefly on the discrimination she has battled in the years since she openly admitted to being gay. Her children have fought those battles with her. She went on to recount a time her daughter had stones thrown at her as she got off a school bus by other kids. Howland went to another parent to discuss the matter. “Aren’t you are a lesbian?” the parent asked as she sneered. With that, she shut the door.
The couple had planned to get married when they could afford a trip to a place where marriages were legal, but getting married in the place Howland grew up and was raised was even more special for them. The wedding vows that Popejoy read to them reminded them of the same commitments as any couple getting married; love, commitment and time spent to work on the relationship every day.
The ruling is still winding its way through the courts. An appeal has been re-filed with the 10th Circuit Court and a stay could be issued at any time. For proponents on both sides of the matter, this will remain an emotionally charged issue that despite court rulings, will not change how this couple feels.