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License

Dan Hunter, left, and Randy Paul display their marriage license they received Thursday in the Butte-Silver Bow Clerk of the Court office.

No deputy clerks in the Butte-Silver Bow clerk of court office are exempt from issuing wedding licenses for same-sex couples, Clerk of Court Lori Maloney said Monday.

"We take our jobs very seriously," she said.

Besides Maloney, six people work in the Butte clerk of court office.

The question arose when as many as four deputies in the Yellowstone County Clerk of District Court's office in Billings indicated their unwillingness to issue wedding licenses for same-sex couples, and for now they won't have to.

Kristie Lee Boelter, clerk of Yellowstone County District Court, said Friday that one deputy has religious objections. That deputy — and the three others who say they also object — won't be required to issue the licenses, she said.

Boelter said that decision was made on direction from county Human Relations Director Dwight Vigness after consulting with the County Attorney's office. Boelter declined to identify the employees.

As of Monday, 10 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued since Thursday in Butte-Silver Bow County, Maloney said.

No same-sex wedding licenses have been issued in Granite, Jefferson, Madison, Beaverhead, Anaconda-Deer Lodge, Powell counties, according to calls made to those offices Monday.

In Billings, 20 deputies work in the office on the seventh floor of the Yellowstone County Courthouse. The office and the hallway outside were filled with emotional people Thursday as same-sex couples were able to tie the knot in Montana for the first time.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled Montana's voter-decided constitutional amendment banning gay marriages was unconstitutional, citing the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On Thursday, Boelter's office issued 16 marriage licenses, 15 for same-sex couples. That set a single-day record, she said.

"I have been told," Boelter said, "that I can't require (deputy clerks) to issue licenses. Right now it's not a problem, because we have enough deputy clerks willing to do this."

That doesn't mean Boelter agrees with the directive.

"It is my responsibility to uphold the law and follow the law," Boelter said Friday morning. "My directive to deputy clerks who took the same oath I did is to follow the law or we have issues.

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