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Counties’ first same-sex marriage licenses granted

Counties’ first same-sex marriage licenses granted
Counties’ first same-sex marriage licenses granted
Linda Elsler, center, of the Harrison County Clerk's Office officiates as Heather R. Furr, left, and Dawn M. Davis exchange vows Friday on the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand in Corydon. Furr and Davis became the second same-sex couple in Harrison County to obtain a marriage license after a federal judge's ruling last Wednesday that Indiana's ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. On Friday night, an emergency stay was issued by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court that halted further issuing of same-sex licenses in Indiana. Photo by Alan Stewart

It was a topsy-turvy three days in Indiana last week as a federal judge declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional on Wednesday only to have the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals approve an emergency stay request Friday evening.
After the June 25 ruling, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller quickly filed an appeal and was analyzing the Court’s rulings in multiple cases and has communicated with county clerks on proper marriage license procedures they should follow in order to avoid chaos during the appeal.
‘Until the United States Supreme Court determines that traditional marriage laws such as Indiana’s are unconstitutional, it is premature to require Indiana to change its definition of marriage and abide by this court’s conception of marriage,’ the attorney general wrote in the request for stay. ‘Nonetheless, marriages in violation of Indiana’s existing law have taken place, are taking place and will continue to take place pursuant to this court’s order.’
The 7th Circuit issued the stay approximately two hours after the lawyer for the IAG’s office filed the motion. During the stay of the district court’s ruling, the parties will have the opportunity to submit their arguments to the 7th Circuit in the appeal of the underlying lawsuits challenging Indiana’s marriage law. While the stay is in place, issuing of same-sex marriage licenses will not take place and probably not until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the matter.
It took 26 years before Weston L. Dillehay III and Aaron J. Perwiske were able to receive a marriage license, so a 40-minute drive from the Dubois County Courthouse to the clerk’s office in Crawford County was nothing.
The couple, who received their license at about 2 p.m. Thursday, became the first same-sex couple in the Harrison-Crawford County area to receive a marriage license.
The Birdseye couple has been together 26 years and originally went to Dubois County to get the license Thursday but were told they actually live in Crawford and were required to get the license in their home county.
The marriage between Dillehay and Perwiske came on the heels of a June 25 decision by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard L. Young, who ‘ while ruling in three lawsuits challenging Indiana’s traditional marriage definition law ‘ ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional and that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Indiana and that same-sex marriage licenses granted in other states are recognized in Indiana.
‘In less than a year,’ Young wrote in his opinion, ‘every federal district court to consider the issue has reached the same conclusion in thoughtful and thorough opinions: laws prohibiting the celebration and recognition of same-sex marriages are unconstitutional.’
In Harrison County, the first same-sex marriage license was issued to Gretchen Wermuth and Sandra Traugott, both of Corydon, who went to the Harrison County Court House for their license Friday morning. They were legally wed on the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand, practically in the shadow of Indiana’s birthplace, the First State Capitol Building in downtown Corydon.
A few hours later, Heather Furr and Dawn Davis, who had a commitment ceremony June 21 in New Albany after four years of being together, were also wed on the bandstand.
‘Actually a friend of ours had posted (Judge Young’s ruling) on my Facebook, saying, hey, a federal judge or U.S. district judge OK’d it, so we started seeing more and more of that kind of posting and I couldn’t believe that it was real,’ Furr said.
The Lanesville couple held a lavish commitment ceremony in New Albany just four days prior, not knowing their bond would be legally recognized shortly after.
‘(June 21) was just great. It was great, and it was happening whether getting married was legal or not,’ Davis said.
‘My family and friends traveled all the way from North Carolina, and her family and friends traveled all the way from New Jersey, and we had all our friends here. It was just a very joyous day,’ Furr added.
Davis said she would hyphenate her last name and be known as Dawn Davis-Furr.
Three hours after Harrison County’s second license was issued, Lori Anne Blades and Sherra Leigh West, both of Corydon, made their way to the courthouse.
Five years ago, on Nov. 7, the couple had a wedding ceremony in Mauckport. Both said they were surprised at the court’s ruling and jumped at the chance to have their union legally recognized by the state.
‘I was shocked. I figured Indiana would be the last state to overturn it,’ West, a lifelong resident of Harrison County, said.
‘I saw it and went online to make sure it had really been done. I couldn’t believe it,’ Blades, who is originally from the Los Angeles area, said.
Blades added that she will take West’s last name.