Out Boulder County has received a grant worth half a million dollars in honor of Clela Rorex.
The Wana Brands Foundation gifted $500,000 to the nonprofit’s “We All Belong Here” capital campaign in honor of the trailblazing former county clerk who died in June.
“We’re very excited,” Out Boulder County Executive Director Mardi Moore said. “We’re thrilled, beyond overjoyed.”
The sum is the largest private foundation grant that Out Boulder County has received in its 25-plus years, Moore said.
Rorex issued the first same-sex marriage license in the U.S. in 1975 as the Boulder County clerk, issuing five more before the Colorado Secretary of State issued a ruling forbidding any more be issued. Rorex went on to be a long-time volunteer for Out Boulder County, championing for women, Native Americans/Indigenous communities and the LGBTQ people.
“Marriage equality has been a battle in Boulder County and beyond,” said Nancy Whiteman,
Founder of the Wana Brands Foundation. “Clela Rorex embodied that fight when she did what was right and provided marriage licenses to six LGBTQ+ couples who were in love in Boulder County in 1975. Today as we see meaningful movement locally — and now at the federal level — Wanna Brands Foundation is proud to be the foundation that cements Clela’s legacy at the Equality Center of the Rocky Mountains.”
Moore drew parallels between Whiteman and Rorex as women who trail-blazed male-dominated professions and made big differences in the LGBTQ communities.
“They are both trailblazers with an ever-present focus on the people they serve,” Moore said. “Just like Clela, Nancy is generous with her time and treasure. Each time I look at Clela’s name on the door to the board room I will remember that strong women actually can change the world.”
The money will go toward the capital campaign Out Boulder County launched at the same time they bought the Equality Center of the Rocky Mountains. The $500,000 gift represents a sizable chunk of the $6 million the nonprofit is aiming to raise to pay off the mortgage, add an elevator and expand new and existing programs including mental health services and youth programming.
The Equality Center opened in April of this year.
Out Boulder County plans to host a celebration to acknowledge the gift on the same day President Joe Biden signs the Respect for Marriage Act, which takes meaningful steps toward protecting marriage on a national level.