Same-sex couples apply for marriage licenses amid government pus - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Same-sex couples apply for marriage licenses amid government pushback

Chris Brower and Bradley Forman (Source: WMC Action News 5) Chris Brower and Bradley Forman (Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Shelby County same-sex couples are getting marriage licenses.

Chris Brower and Bradley Forman were waiting outside the Shelby County courthouse this afternoon.

"Oh my God, this is happening," said Brower. "I know I'm not even a nervous person, but I was nervous today."

Around 11 a.m. they were allowed in to apply for their marriage license.

Friday morning the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-sex couple's constitutional right to get married. The justices ruled 5-4 that states cannot deny gay men and women the same marriage rights of heterosexual couples.

"We pay our taxes, they pay their taxes, and we want to love who we can love and be ourselves," Forman added.

The ruling comes as a relief for many Mid-South couples.

"We're still the same two people," Brower explained. "I mean, we can't, you don't know who you're going to fall in love with. You can't punish that because I fell in love with him and he fell in love with me."

However, not everyone is so happy about the ruling. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III spoke from Nashville Friday.

"Our office argued it, and I think did a fine job," said Slatery.

The ruling comes after Tennessee's push to deny same-sex marriage.

"Now the court is taking that opportunity, that right to vote, and the public debate around it, frankly they're taking that away," said Slatery.

At a press conference Friday, Slatery suggested the voice of many Tennesseans may not have been heard.

"At least in that instance they had a voice and a vote in this instance they didn't," said Slatery.The Attorney General says it may be a while before everything's ironed out.

"It's going to take some time. You're talking about form changes, how many forms of state government refer to husband and wife," said Slatery.

Meanwhile, a local attorney explains what Friday's ruling will soon mean for employers and same-sex married couples.

'If an employer offers benefits, like medical benefits or death benefits, or life insurance benefits to heterosexual married couples, then they will be required to offer those same benefits to same sex married couples," said Memphis-based attorney Courtney Leyes.

Arkansas began issuing marriage licenses after the ruling Friday.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson offered the following statement Friday afternoon in regards to the ruling:

"Today the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision requires the State of Arkansas to recognize same-sex marriage. This decision goes against the expressed view of Arkansans and my personal beliefs and convictions. While my personal convictions will not change, as Governor I recognize the responsibility of the state to follow the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result of this ruling, I will direct all state agencies to comply with the decision.

“It is also important to note that the Supreme Court decision is directed at the states to allow and recognize marriage between two people of the same sex. It is not a directive for churches or pastors to recognize same-sex marriage. The decision for churches, pastors and individuals is a choice that should be left to the convictions of conscience."

In Mississippi, the wait remains.

Attorney General Jim Hood released the following statement Friday:

"The Supreme Court's decision is not immediately effective in Mississippi. It will become effective in Mississippi, and circuit clerks will be required to issues same-sex marriage licenses, when the 5th Circuit lifts the stay of Judge Reeves' order. This could come quickly or may take several days. The 5th Circuit might also choose not to lift the stay and instead issue an order, which could take considerably longer before it become effective."

While visiting the Nike North American Logistics Center in Raleigh, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam spoke about the Supreme Court of the United States ruling on same sex-marriage.

“I just heard, walking into the building, so the news is new. I haven't had a chance to review it. Obviously, the Supreme Court decision overturns the vote that the people of Tennessee had several years ago,” Haslam said.

He says he instructed each county follow the law, effective immediately. But that it may take time for everything to settle.

Crittenden County Arkansas said its county clerks are ready to issue same-sex marriage licenses, but have not had any people show up.

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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