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Utah candidate for clerk says he won't grant same-sex marriage licenses

{p}A candidate for Utah County clerk said if elected he will not grant same-sex marriage licenses. (KUTV){/p}

A candidate for Utah County clerk said if elected he will not grant same-sex marriage licenses. (KUTV)

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A candidate for Utah County clerk said if elected he will not grant same-sex marriage licenses.

Jake Oaks, an Independent American Party Candidate, said it’s not about his personal feelings on the issue, but a matter of the state constitution.

2News questioned the candidate on why, and heard from his opposition, who isn’t without controversy himself.

“Our Utah State constitution says that only marriage between a man and a woman will be recognized and no other combination,” Oaks said.

He said when it comes to marriage, that’s an issue for the states, not the federal government to decide.

2News asked Oaks if he would deny a same-sex couple marriage license.

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“Our state constitution would require me to only issue marriage licenses to those that are recognized legally by our state constitution," he said.

He feels that way despite the Supreme Court's ruling that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional under the equal protection clause.

Current Utah County clerk, Josh Daniels, said clerks have a legal obligation to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses.

“I don’t know that there’s really still a controversy about issuing marriage licenses. It’s settled,” Daniels said.

And he said failure to do so would likely mean a lawsuit.

“I don’t think the county would be successful in maintaining that type of a ban or prohibition. That would set the county up for a lawsuit for sure," Daniels said.

2News asked Oaks if the issue really came down to the constitution for him, or if he took issue with same-sex couples marrying.

“So it’s two different questions,” Oaks said. “If you ask my personal view on it, it’s going to be one thing.”

He went on to say he might not support something, but would support a state’s right to pass their own laws as it relates to things not clearly defined in the US Constitution.

“My religious views on something don’t really matter on this. I’m strictly looking through the lens of the constitution,” Oaks said.

He said if the state constitution were to be amended, he would grant same-sex marriage licenses.

“Whether it granted that power in our state constitution I’d issue those marriage licenses if it was legally recognized in our state constitution. If it doesn’t I have to whatever is stated in the constitution I have to follow that when elected and I take an oath," he said.

2News went to Oaks lone opponent for clerk, Republican Aaron Davidson. Who has some controversies of his own. A disorderly conduct conviction stemming from a school board meeting.

“It is a controversy of mine it’s just an infraction so it’s not a major,” Davidson said. “It’s like a traveling violation. But like I said, to me I think there’s not a law against hypocrisy and I think the Alpine School District and American Fork City is very hypocritical in bringing that charge against me.”

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He thinks the conviction could actually be a positive.

“I was wiling to stand up and say this was wrong,” Davidson said.

2News asked Davidson where he lands on granting same-sex marriage licenses.

“I wouldn’t want you know if a gay person were in office I wouldn’t want them to make it more difficult for me, so I’m not going to make it more difficult for them if that’s the law,” Davidson said. “So no, I would not prevent gay marriages from happening in Utah.”

As far as Davidson’s disorderly conduct conviction, he’s weighing his legal options which could include an appeal.

One of these two candidates will ultimately be elected clerk in the upcoming general election.

2News reached out to Equality Utah for their response to Oaks stance. They said,

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“In Utah, every gay couple has the liberty to marry, and every county is legally obligated to provide clerks who will issue licenses for legal marriages and officiate if needed. This issue was settled in state law back in 2015. If Jake Oaks doesn’t wish to issue same-sex marriage licenses, he doesn’t have to, however, he would then be prohibited from issuing straight marriage licenses also. All couples must be treated equally. Clerks cannot pick and chose which legal marriages they solemnize. It’s all or nothing.”

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