The following article was written by Bobbi King:
Julie Miller, Certified Genealogist and member of several Colorado societies, is a member of the NGS/FGS Records Preservation and Access Committee, as well as liaison to the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies as a watchdog of Colorado legislation concerning public records' access, or, should we say, "non-access," as is becoming the case!
During the week of March 20th, Julie alerted Colorado genealogists that the Colorado General Assembly was considering Colorado HB 1357, with amendments that would close, permanently, marriage license applications. We genealogists and the public would not be able to read the most pertinent part of the marriage license document, the application portion where we see parents' names, applicant occupations, ages, and the other pieces of interesting information we love to see.
The supporters of this amendment to close these records included the Colorado Clerk Recorders associations and the Colorado Press. Julie had worked for days consulting with Dave Rencher, chair of the FGS/NGS RPAC committee, and others, about appropriate modes of action to undertake to stem the closure of these records. By the middle of the week, Julie had begun urgently alerting Colorado genealogists about the impending legislation via phone calls and email.
By the time Julie had a chance to give widespread publicity of this closure to the genealogical community, the amendment closing the marriage applications had already passed the Colorado House and was sitting in a Senate committee, ready to go to the Senate with recommendations that the Senate confirm the closure of marriage applications, as written.
Julie, besides calling and emailing us and urging us to write/email/call our representatives, traveled downtown to the Capitol and appeared before the Senate committee testifying on our behalf.
As a result of Julie's singular efforts and call to arms to the genealogical community, she credits the community for affecting these changes:
Colorado Senate passed HB 1357 after adding two amendments:
The first amendment (L.003) opens marriage applications after 50 years. This was a compromise which we proposed at the committee meeting last week.
The second amendment (L.004), which was proposed by Private Investigators, could also benefit genealogists. This amendment allows anyone to apply to the district court, which may at its discretion and with good cause, order that the marriage application be inspected.
In effect, this provision affects those records less than 50 years from the date of the marriage application.
The amended bill still needs to pass the House and then it will go to the Governor for his signature.
This is a success compared to what the public would have had as the bill was originally proposed - no access at all. Our success was a direct result of your letters and calls.
Without the passage of amendment L.003, all Colorado marriage applications would be closed forever. With the amendment, marriage applications before 1956 are open records.
Comment by Bobbi King: We deeply appreciate Julie's commitment and work for records access on behalf of Colorado genealogists. This demonstrates the effect we can have, even when it looks bleak, on voicing our objections and concerns to public records' closures.