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Couple looks back 5 years after same-sex marriage ban lifted

December 20, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Many Utah couples are celebrating their fifth anniversary this month and looking back on their rush to wed after a federal judge had become the first in the country to strike down a state ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s laws against same-sex marriage were unconstitutional on Dec. 20, 2013, leading to more than 1,200 couples dashing to county clerks’ offices to become legally married during the 17-day window after the ruling, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday.

In Salt Lake County, the ruling led to joyful impromptu ceremonies at the clerk’s office. But in some places, it led to frustration as clerks dragged their feet for days before issuing marriage licenses.

Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson were among that first group to legally wed. They hurried to the Salt Lake County Government Center on that Friday before Christmas after an attorney friend called telling them about the court decision.

They broke the news to the county employees during the previously quiet Friday.

“They thought I was there to apply as a farce,” Ferguson said. “They had not heard yet. They all gasped.”

While the couple waited as the office got organized, Anderson said he documented the course of events on Twitter.

“All of a sudden, my phone was going crazy,” Anderson said. “I was getting retweeted and beeped and messaged.”

People started rushing to the office, many of them spurred by Anderson’s tweets.

“Other people were like, ‘Can we hang out with you?’” Anderson said. “We said, ‘Sure.’ Any wedding party is better than none.”

Ferguson and Anderson received their license, and a friend performed the ceremony.

That night, Anderson said, “everything felt different. The ground felt different. The air felt different.”

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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