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June 01, 2016 News » Cover Story

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They Did!
A tale of a marriage 10 years in the making
By Doug Lowe

Thanks to fate or luck after a 10-year delay in their relationship, Leisha and Amanda LaCrone made history on Christmas Eve of 2013 as the first gay couple ever married in super-conservative Sanpete County, Utah.

Their unprecedented union happened soon after a federal court ruling, on Dec. 20, 2013, that opened—very briefly—a window of opportunity for same-sex marriages in Utah. Sadly, some two weeks later, on Jan. 6, 2014, that window slammed shut. But, by then, Leisha, Amanda and a few other same-sex couples around the state had successfully jumped through it.

The U.S. District Court for Utah issued its decision legalizing same-sex marriage on a Friday. So, gay couples all over the state started anxiously waiting for Monday, when they could apply for their marriage license.

Leisha vividly remembers: "On Dec. 23, 2013, we hurried to the Sanpete County Courthouse in Manti for our marriage license." But there, they were told, "no." Leisha, while leaving empty handed, announced that she was going to sue Sanpete County for refusing to abide by the widely publicized and reported federal court ruling.

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"A few hours later," Leisha recalls, "someone phoned, apologized and said we could be married the next morning. So, on Christmas Eve, we all went down to the courthouse and got married by the Sanpete County clerk."

That marriage had been 10 years in the making.

During Amanda's freshman year, at North Sanpete High in Mt. Pleasant, she first saw Leisha, who was a couple years older. "Instantly I had a crush on her," Amanda says, "and I said to myself something like, 'Oh, my goodness, who is this girl?'"

She learned that the "who" was Leisha LaCrone. But Amanda never got to know her. Being shy and unaware of her bisexuality, Amanda did not pursue her attraction. And when her then-boyfriend got her pregnant, she married him (but without the romantic proposal Amanda had dreamed of).

Leisha, on the other hand, came out in high school. "I didn't want to pretend anymore to be somebody I wasn't," she says. After graduating and turning 18, she and her girlfriend at the time started living together in the area.

Within a few months, however, Leisha moved to Salt Lake City, where she stayed for about six years, enjoying the city's larger and more diverse population. There, her life was good.

Meanwhile, back in Sanpete County, Amanda was struggling with her marriage. She recognized that in some ways her husband, the father of her two children, wasn't a really bad guy. Sadly, she also realized he wasn't such a good guy, either—at least, not for her, she says.

He wouldn't, or couldn't, appreciate certain things that were important to Amanda; for instance, the romantic proposal she never got. She asked him numerous times to propose, but he never did. And, for years she had asked him to fulfill another special dream by taking her to the ocean and beach at Santa Monica Pier. He never did.

Eventually, Amanda filed for divorce. And in the process of ending her loveless marriage, she suddenly crossed paths with Leisha again.

While stopped at the Sinclair gas station on Utah Route 89 in Mt. Pleasant, Amanda went inside to buy something. And there, behind the counter, as if waiting for her, was her secret high-school crush, Leisha LaCrone.

Even though it had been roughly eight years, seeing Leisha again immediately ignited the old flame. Though her heart pounded and the words didn't want to flow, she managed some small talk while making her purchase.

Amanda's visits to that gas station became more frequent, and the two women opened up to each other. Amanda learned that Leisha had an older sister who was also a single mother, and that she had moved back to Sanpete County because her sister needed help with the children.

Soon, the couples' visits turned into serious dating. And when Leisha learned that Amanda's soon-to-be-ex was not giving her any financial support with her two kids, Leisha suggested that they move in with her—along with her sister's three kids who were often there.

About that same time, Amanda and her kids left town for a few days on a road trip to visit her parents in Montana. The trip was a turning point in their relationship.

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Not wanting Amanda to have to drive all the way back by herself, Leisha flew to Montana. Somehow, the return trip—with Leisha helping to drive and manage the two kids—cemented their love. "On that drive, I realized how much I loved Leisha," Amanda says. She came to clearly understand, "I had finally found somebody who actually cared about my life, who wanted to help make me happy."

And the trip was equally monumental for Leisha: "I saw Amanda being such a strong woman and such a great mother, that I fell in love with her." After that journey, Amanda and her two children moved in.

Come fall 2013, Leisha began secretly planning a trip that she hoped would fulfill two of Amanda's dearest unrealized dreams. But as far as Amanda knew, it was a trip to Las Vegas.

In fact, Leisha had two big surprises for Amanda. "I got a ring and I took her to the Santa Monica Pier at sunset on Oct. 18, and asked her to marry me," Leisha says. When Amanda responded "yes," the two started making plans to marry in the summer of 2014.

Unexpectedly, a little more than three months later, fateful legal machinations gave the couple a sudden opportunity to speed up their wedding plans. They jumped at that chance, and made a bit of history in the process. "Our marriage was front page news in the local papers, the Sanpete Messenger and The Pyramid," Leisha says.

The two were ecstatic about their marriage, as well as the support of family, despite association with the LDS Church. "We aren't trying to offend anyone among our Mormon neighbors," Amanda says. "My grandfather, who is the mayor of Fountain Green and an active member of the church, was happy to conduct the ceremony we held to celebrate our courthouse wedding."

Sanpete County residents like to call their mountain valley "the Heart of Utah." The double entendre refers the geographic center of the state (very close to where the LaCrones live), as well as the rich history behind the area's many picturesque pioneer-era homes, storefronts and LDS meeting houses (including the temple in Manti). Perhaps it also refers to those old-fashioned Mormon values, including refusal to judge others.

Today, that heart might also serve as a tribute to the momentous love story of two Sanpete County women who dared to marry each other—and were finally able to do it on Christmas Eve in 2013.


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About The Authors

Carolyn Campbell

Carolyn Campbell

Bio:
Campbell has been writing for City Weekly since the 1980s. Her insightful pieces have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists chapters in Utah and Colorado.
Enrique Limón

Enrique Limón

Bio:
Editor at Salt Lake City Weekly. Lover of sour candies.

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