PHOTOS: First marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in the South
May 10, 2014
This morning, after yesterday's landmark ruling in Wright v. Arkansas, where a circuit judge struck down an Arkansas law that prohibits same-sex couples from marrying in the state, same-sex couples began marrying in Eureka Springs, AR.
The first couple to receive a marriage license was Kristin Seaton and Jennifer Rambo (right, photo by Kendall Wright), who have been together for more than four years. The couple's witness was Cheryl Maples (center), who filed the Wright v. Arkansas challenge last summer and has worked tirelessly to win marriage in the state.
The first couple in line at the Carroll County Courthouse was Kristin Seaton, 27, and Jennifer Rambo, 26, both of Fort Smith, Arkansas. The couple has been together four years.
Upon hearing about the judge's ruling, Seaton said her first thought was "Is this really happening?" The couple set out for the Pulaski County Courthouse, but learned on the way there that it wouldn't be open Saturday. Eureka Springs, a popular site for destination weddings in the Ozarks, was their next stop, after someone told them it was the most likely place to get a license.
Seaton and Rambo slept in their Ford Focus after arriving at 2 a.m. Saturday, waking up every 30 minutes to make sure they were at the head of the line. The moment they saw another couple pull up, Seaton and Rambo bolted to the courthouse.
"I don't think I ran that fast," Rambo said.
Here is the moment that Kristin and Jennifer said "I Do" and became the first couple in the South with a legal marriage license, captured by @RettPeek:
Another great photo of Kristin and Jennifer, captured by Grav Weldon.
Another couple in line to marry this morning has been together for more than 50 years. They shared their photo with Rett Peek Photography, too:
The happy day was made possible through yesterday's ruling in Wright v. Arkansas. In the decision, which was not stayed, announced at 5:00 CT, Judge Chris Piazza wrote, "Our freedoms are often acquired slowly, but our country has evolved as a beacon of liberty in what is sometimes a dark world. It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it."
Trella & Marie are another couple who came to Eureka Springs to marry. (Photo by @RettPeek)
Throughout the course of the day, the line at the Carroll County courthouse grew and grew. Initially, same-sex couples were told that they were not permitted to marry, but by 11:00 a.m., the county clerk's instructions had changed course, and marriage licenses were being issued. Grav Weldon, a photographer from Little Rock, was on the scene in Eureka Springs to take pictures and share messages of love.
Congratulations to all of the happy couples who will marry today in Arkansas!