Clela Rorex Remembered As LGBTQ Pioneer In Boulder County: ‘She Made A Lot Of Waves’

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The Boulder County Clerk credited with issuing the state’s very first gay marriage license in 1975 has passed away. Clela Rorex passed away over the weekend at the age of 78.

“Clela didn’t sign up to be an LGBT activist. Clela signed up to be a good county clerk and to follow the laws of the state and she did that,” said Mardi Moore, the Executive Director at Out Boulder County and a friend of Rorex. “When marriage equality became law of the land (in 2015) that meant a lot to her. The Supreme Court was very slow to catch up to Clela Rorex. It took 40 years for them to figure out what she knew was right in 1975.”

(credit: CBS)

Rorex was elected in her early 30s and quickly took up the issue of gay marriage.

“Clela didn’t know any gay people when she issued the marriage licenses. There’s nothing in law that says gay couples can’t get married, and she said, ‘darn right’ and started issuing them,” Rorex said. “She issued six before the state closed her down. Those six licenses are still valid.”

Though she didn’t start her political career as an activist, later in life Rorex continued to be an ally for LGBTQ rights and beyond. She worked for other organizations that constantly pushed for equality.

“She also made a lot of waves, and the waves she made for our community the LGBTQ community followed her forever,” Moore said.

Even in her final days Rorex was working to help people. Moore says she realized her best use wasn’t pushing large structural change but small one-on-one conversations to change minds.

“There are a lot of firsts out of Boulder County, and I think it’s because people act out of principal and people act out of community, and I think that Clela Rorex did both of those things,” Moore said. “Her LGBTQ community thanks her for everything she gave to us, and all she lost in doing that.”