4 Same-Sex Marriage same time, they applied for a marriage license in Blue Earth County, Minnesota were granted the license and were mar- ried by a Methodist minister in Mankato, county seat of Blue Earth County Baker and McConnell are generally regarded as pioneers of the same-sex marriage movement in the United States. In the decade that followed their first attempts to receive a marriage license, a number of other gay and lesbian couples made simi- lar efforts. Also in 1970, for example, two Kentucky women, Tracy Knight and Marjorie Jones, applied for a marriage license from the Jefferson County clerk. On the advice of the district attorney, the clerk denied the license because the applicants were of the same sex. When Knight and Jones sued to force the clerk to issue a license, the district court rejected their claim, relying almost exclusively on definitions of marriage found in standard dictionaries of the time. The court noted that state statutes were essentially silent on the issue of same-sex mar- riage, so it had no statutory or case law precedent on which to base its decision ( Jones v. Hallahan 1973). Jones and Knight did not pursue their case beyond the court of appeals. A somewhat different situation arose in Colorado in 1975, when two men, David McCord and David Zamora, approached the county clerk in Colorado Springs seeking a marriage license. The clerk responded that “[w]e do not do that here in El Paso County, but if you want to, go to Boulder County, they might do it there” (elephantjournal.com 2009). The Boul- der County clerk, Clela Rorex, consulted the assistant district attorney for Boulder County, who said that there appeared to be no state law that prevented the clerk from issuing a marriage license to two individuals of the same sex, which she proceeded to do. In the succeeding months, she issued five more mar- riage licenses to same-sex couples. The practice came to a halt, however, when state attorney general, J. D. McFarlane, issued an opinion on May 7, 1975, that Rorex’s actions were illegal under state law. Just to clarify the situation, the Colorado state
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