First Gay Couple to be Issued a Marriage License in the US

by Savitha C Muppala on  March 5, 2010 at 11:39 PM Lifestyle News
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All that was missing was the rice and wedding bells as Cuc Vu and her partner Gwen Migita walked past more than 100 cheering people in Washington Wednesday after becoming the first gay couple to be issued a marriage license in the US capital.

"It's a tremendous feeling," Vu told AFP.

"We feel like we're on the right side of history," she said, just hours after the US Supreme Court threw out a last-minute attempt to block same-sex marriage in the US capital.

"I'm proud that our nation's capital has recognized us as human beings who deserve the same rights as everyone else," said Michael McBride, 48, as he waited in a line that stretched down a long corridor inside the DC Superior Court building to apply for a licence to wed his partner of 18 years.

Several places back in the line, Filipina-American La Sarmiento, 45, stood with her partner of eight years, Wendy Taylor, 37.

"We're going to get our license and have a civil ceremony soon, before they change their minds like they did in California with Proposition 8," Sarmiento said.

Once a license has been granted, couples have to wait three business days before they can be wed.

Although the US Supreme Court on Tuesday refused a request to hold a referendum on gay marriage, which would have delayed the day the law took effect in Washington, it said opponents of gay marriage could seek to hold a "ballot initiative" in the capital to try to get the act repealed.

That would be similar to what happened in California, where residents voted in a referendum in November 2008 -- known as Proposition 8 -- to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, overturning a state supreme court decision six months earlier which legalized gay marriage.

On Wednesday, Rocky Galloway, 50, got a licence to marry his partner of six years, Reggie Stanley, also 50.

The couple has twin, 15-month-old girls, and plans to officially tie the knot on Tuesday.

"This means our family is finally the same as any other family in DC and that's important to us," Galloway told AFP.

Outside the courthouse, a handful of protesters held up banners and chanted slogans, saying the United States was doomed because it has allowed same-sex marriage.

"When this Congress acted to let fags marry in DC, they bound this country," anti-gay activist Shirley Phelps-Roper, who had travelled to Washington from Kansas, told AFP.

"This is the last generation. This nation's destruction is imminent and they did it to themselves," said Phelps-Roper, brandishing signs reading " "America's doomed", "God hates you", "You're going to hell", and "Fag marriage".

Angelisa Young and Sinjolya Townsend, a couple of 12 years who are both in their 40s, were first in line at the courthouse, arriving before sunrise.

"When I got up at two in the morning, I felt, 'whoa'," Young told reporters.

"Being able to finally marry the woman who I have been committed to for 12 years is a dream come true. I hope feelings like this don't go because it feels so good," she said.

Young and Townsend will be married married Tuesday in the same non-denominational ceremony in Washington as Galloway and Stanley.

They had considered getting married in any of the five states that allow gay marriage -- Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont -- but opted to hold out until same-sex unions were allowed in the capital.

"We live here, we work here. This is our home, and we wanted to get married here. We didn't want to do a 'destination-marriage,'" Young said.

Couples who wed in Washington or any of the states that allow single-sex marriage are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual couples, but only at the state level.

Male-female married couples also have rights at the federal level, including social security benefits, family leave and pensions.

Source: AFP

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