Gay cou­ples wed, some US coun­ties try to re­sist rul­ing

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY CLAIRE GALO­FARO AND KIM CHAN­DLER

Ben­jamin Moore and Tadd Roberts wore match­ing tuxe­dos to the county clerk’s of­fice in Louisville to get mar­ried Fri­day, and the mayor greeted them with a bot­tle of cham­pagne.

They were among a rush of gay cou­ples across the South and Mid­west who cel­e­brated the U.S. Supreme Court’s rul­ing le­gal­iz­ing same-sex mar­riage with spon­ta­neous wed­dings. They were young and old, they wore gowns and suits or T-shirts and jeans, they kissed and waved flags that read “love wins.”

“It’s just been in­cred­i­ble and his­toric and amaz­ing to live this mo­ment,” Moore said. The mayor took com­mem­o­ra­tive photos of him and Roberts get­ting their li­cense.

But the re­ac­tion wasn’t as wel­com­ing in some of the 14 states that had been the last hold­outs against same-sex mar­riage, cre­at­ing con­fu­sion as some of­fi­cials em­braced the rul­ing and oth­ers re­buffed it.

Alabama Chief Jus­tice Roy Moore, who has long fought against same-sex mar­riage, said states can fight the rul­ing, as they have de­ci­sions al­low­ing slav­ery or abor­tion, and pre­dicted that it would spark a na­tional back­lash from Chris­tian con­ser­va­tives.

“They’ve just dis­re­garded ev­ery­thing that prece­dent holds, and they’ve de­stroyed the foun­da­tion of our coun­try which is fam­ily,” Moore said.

In ru­ral Alabama, Pike County Pro­bate Judge Wes Allen said he would stop is­su­ing all mar­riage li­censes to avoid hav­ing to give them to gay cou­ples. Allen said Alabama law gives judges the op­tion of grant­ing li­censes, and “I have cho­sen not to per­form that func­tion.”

Gover­nors in Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi and Texas also railed against the rul­ing. And clerks in some of the af­fected states re­fused to is­sue li­censes, cit­ing a three-week grace pe­riod al­lowed by the Supreme Court or forms now out of date that spec­ify “bride” and “groom.”

But

“It is a spe­cial day”

by

Fri­day

af­ter­noon, cou­ples had re­ceived li­censes in all but one of the 14 states, ac­cord­ing to the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign. In Louisiana, where Repub­li­can Gov. Bobby Jin­dal is run­ning for the White House as a con­ser­va­tive Chris­tian, same­sex cou­ples were turned away.

“It was kind of bit­ter­sweet,” said Earl Ben­jamin, who waited with his part­ner for hours for a li­cense and was fi­nally told that the state’s ban on same- sex mar­riage re­mained in­tact — for now.

In Texas, many coun­ties held off on is­su­ing same- sex mar­riage li­censes un­til re­ceiv­ing guid­ance from Repub­li­can At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Pax­ton, who scolded the Supreme Court but left coun­ties in limbo for hours.

Mis­sis­sippi At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jim Hood said Fri­day that same- sex mar­riages can­not take place im­me­di­ately. But amid the con­fu­sion over when wed­dings should legally be­gin, three cou­ples re­ceived their mar­riage li­censes in Hat­ties­burg, and took their vows on the court­house steps.

Other clerks scram­bled to is­sue li­censes as gay cou­ples rushed to their of­fices.

In Arkansas, Pu­laski County Clerk Larry Crane held a hand to his heart af­ter the Supreme Court’s rul­ing.

“It is a spe­cial day,” he said, chok­ing up. “I’m hon­ored to be a part of it.”

Jes­sica Dent and Carolee Tay­lor got mar­ried a few blocks from the court­house in Mont­gomery, Alabama.

“Never thought it would hap­pen in our life­time,” said Tay­lor.

Af­ter their cer­e­mony, they re­turned to the court­house to file their li­cense, mak­ing them of­fi­cially mar­ried in the con­ser­va­tive state that had fought back against ef­forts to le­gal­ize gay mar­riage. Af­ter a fed­eral judge ruled ear­lier this year that the state’s gay mar­riage ban was un­con­sti­tu­tional, about 500 same- sex cou­ples were mar­ried be­fore the Alabama Supreme Court di­rectly or­dered pro­bate judges to stop is­su­ing the li­censes.

“We waited so long. When it came through, I can’t think of a bet­ter way to celebrate, the de­ci­sion and our love,” said Dent, walk­ing out of the court­house hold­ing a sign that said “All love is equal.”

In Texas, Gov. Greg Ab­bott is­sued a memo say­ing the gov­ern­ment should not pres­sure peo­ple to vi­o­late their “sin­cerely held re­li­gious be­liefs.” He later clar­i­fied that he does not con­done dis­crim­i­na­tion or au­tho­rize state agen­cies to deny ben­e­fits to same- sex cou­ples.

Jin­dal also is­sued a state­ment vow­ing to never stop fight­ing for “re­li­gious lib­erty.”

“Mar­riage be­tween a man and a woman was es­tab­lished by God, and no earthly court can al­ter that,” he wrote.

De­ci­sion

The Supreme Court al­lows for a 25- day de­lay while it con­sid­ers a re­hear­ing. The Louisiana Clerks As­so­ci­a­tion ad­vised clerks to wait un­til then be­fore is­su­ing li­censes.

In other states, gover­nors, even those who dis­agree with the rul­ing, made decisive state­ments, call­ing gay mar­riage the law of the land and in­struct­ing their clerks to is­sue li­censes right away.

Min­is­ter Danielle Goeckel stood on the steps of the Ful­ton County court­house in At­lanta on Fri­day morn­ing hold­ing a sign read­ing: “Yes I will gladly marry you!”

The fee for her ser­vices? Two hugs.

Luke Bar­lowe, one of the plain­tiffs in the Supreme Court case, said he’s pleased that their fight will save younger gen­er­a­tions of gay peo­ple the pain he en­dured.

But still he re­sents it took nine strangers on the Supreme Court to de­cide he has the right to love Jimmy Meade, his part­ner of 47 years. They mar­ried in Iowa in 2009, and sued to have their mar­riage rec­og­nized in Ken­tucky.

For decades, they hid their re­la­tion­ship, pre­tend­ing to be room­mates and avoid­ing public af­fec­tion.

On Fri­day, they walked down the side­walk in down­town Louisville, hold­ing hands.

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