LGBT Richmonders line up to get marriage licenses
“Wow that really just happened,” said Nicole Pries and Lindsey Oliver, laughing as they left the John Marshall Courthouse early this afternoon.
Today is a historic day here in Richmond for LGBT couples, as same-sex marriage was legalized in the state after the Supreme Court decided not to take up a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling overturning the Commonwealth’s ban on gay marriage.
The ruling affects over 30 states across the nation. Here in Richmond, a number of excited couples appeared outside the courthouse around 1pm this afternoon. Pries and Oliver, both Richmond natives, were the first couple to be married and were thrilled after waiting years for this day to come.
“We actually met three years ago and this is conveniently our anniversary! We are so happy to have the state of Virginia affirm our love,” said Pries, “It’s a great day. Lots of things still need to be done in Virginia to keep pushing for gays to be equal but this is one step and we’re so glad to be a part of it.”
Richmond locals and press began standing outside the courthouse as early as 11 this morning once word got out that licensing was happening today. Attorney General Mark Herring released a statement earlier saying “this is a tremendous moment in Virginia history. We will continue to fight discrimination wherever we find it, but today, we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality ignited centuries ago.”
Herring is expected to hold media availabilities to discuss today’s news in Northern Virginia and Richmond.
Meanwhile, same-sex marriage advocates and gay couples all over the metro area are continuing to celebrate the news.
“We’re off to celebrate with loved ones! And for those states that are still waiting for legalization; just know it’s coming. We’re here and we’re queer,” said Oliver.
Sam Howerton and Ryan Gardner were among the other couples to receive their licenses today. After being together for over 8 years, the couple said they were shocked by this morning’s news.
“We didn’t even change clothes,” Gardner said with a smile across his face. We just got in the car and came straight on over. Of course, we knew this day would come but we were honestly surprised that it came this quickly.”
Howerton and Gardner also spoke about how important it was for the two of them to finally be recognized by the Commonwealth. Even with their family supporting them, the couple said they felt a large sense of relief receiving their license.
“With this piece of paper, we’re officially getting hitched tonight! This means everything to us,” said Howerton. ”It’s security and comfort knowing how much more we can share now. We’re celebrating this one with a big bottle of champagne.”
American Foundation for Equal Rights, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Virginia are just a few of the organizations who had working to make today a reality.
Along with these groups, Equality Virginia reaches out to congratulate the couples around the state. While the Supreme Court has yet to state its reason for today’s news, James Parrish, the executive director of Equality Virginia, spoke about the freedom that same-sex couples all around Virginia finally have.
“I am overwhelmed with joy for the more than 14,000 couples who can now marry the person they love in the place they call home,” said Parrish in a release sent out today. “And, the relationships of couples who were married in other states are now affirmed by the commonwealth.”
Over at the Gay Community Center of Richmond, the President and Executive Director Bill Harrison was another local voice exuberant to hear the ruling this morning. Harrison said the results from today affected many Richmonders personally, along with the entire state of Virginia.
“Justice can take a very long time, but it always prevails in America and today is a great example,” said Harrison. ”While it appears so much as happened in the last two years, and it has, this is a civil rights movement that has been going on for generations.”
There is no denying that today is a monumental occasion, the staff here at GayRVA sends out its congratulations to all the same-sex couples moving forward with their relationships as we continue to work toward equality.
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