Colorado state senator Jessie Ulibarri and his partner were among the roughly three dozen same-sex couples who legally married after a county clerk in Boulder announced that her office would issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in the wake of a Wednesday ruling from a federal appeals court striking down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage.
While Colorado's legislature has eight out LGBT representatives, Ulibarri is the first to get legally married to his partner in the state of Colorado — which still enforces a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2006 banning same-sex marriage.
Ulibarri, a Democratic freshman senator representing Commerce City, just northeast of Denver, tells The Advocate that he and his new husband, Louis Trujillo, shared the stresses of many engaged couples as they scrambled to get everything in order to effectively elope.
But through the help and generosity of friends, family, and local businesspeople, Ulibarri and Trujillo were able to secure a limousine, matching tuxes (with ties coordinated to their daughter Silvia's dress), sharp new haircuts, and a wedding band that belonged to Ulibarri's grandfather.
"Louis and I have always said we would wait for marriage but that we would make it official as soon as we could in our home state," Ulibarri tells The Advocate. "When the opportunity provided itself to us with the Boulder clerk offering marriage certificates, we jumped at the chance. It was exhilarating, nerve-racking and beautiful to make it happen. I guess in that sense it was just like every other wedding!"
As the wedding party made its way into the county clerk's office Thursday afternoon, Ulibarri says his grandmother — who has always been supportive of his relationship — reached out to him and handed him the ring that her late husband had worn through 61 years of marriage, until his death last year. Ulibarri says he immediately broke down in tears, but his grandmother was "beaming with pride and joy."
Colorado's Republican attorney general, John Suthers, has said that the marriage licenses issued in Boulder — and as of Friday, in neighboring Lafayette and Longmont counties — are legally invalid. Suthers says the Boulder clerk is mistaken in her interpretation of the federal appeals court ruling, which she claims applies to the entire 10th Circuit (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas), while also arguing that the stay granted with the appeals court's decision only applies to the specific state and officials named in the case.
Ulibarri, who has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT and minority rights in his short tenure in the Senate, is unfazed by the attorney general's comments.
"The attorney general cannot unilaterally stop an elected clerk from issuing marriage certificates, without a court action," Ulibarri tells The Advocate. "We know that love wins, so we aren't worried about what the attorney general may say about our marriage."
Watch a report on Ulibarri's wedding from Denver's KUSA-TV below.