In a five to four ruling, U.S. Supreme Court Justices paved the way for all same-sex couples to be able to marry…anywhere in the country. In Columbus, same-gender couples received marriage licenses for the first time.
“I need you guys to look over all this information and make sure everything’s spelled correctly," a county probate worker said.
Less than an hour after the Supreme Court decision, a Franklin County Probate Court worker places a marriage license and other documents before Jimmie Beall and Mindy Ross.
Beall and Ross are the first Franklin County lesbian couple to receive a marriage license. They’re well-known at the county probate office. Every Valentine’s Day for the past 7 or 8 years they’ve gone Downtown to ask for a license, only to be denied. But Friday, after 14 years as a couple, they get one.
The couple said the close ruling, five to four, doesn’t dampen their excitement.
“As long as it passed. That was the most important thing. It is. It is. And the fact that they say it is a right, and we’re entitled to protection. Those are key. A whole lot of other pieces like work protection can follow now. It’s big.”
Gay couples can marry in a majority of states, but Friday’s ruling means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing bans and recognize same-sex marriages.
Ross said she finally feels like her relationship is validated. And now she said she can rest easy knowing there are fewer legal hurdles for them as a couple.
“Legitimacy, acceptance, freedom to some extent, you know, that we’re protected," she said. "We don’t have to worry about all those different protections that we were talking about before. We’re a protected class now.”
Across the street from the courthouse, supporters of same-sex marriage and members of Equality Ohio gathered to celebrate the ruling.
A large, white sign with the hand-written word “WEDDINGS” had been placed under a tree. Several ordained ministers showed up to offer nuptials for couples who wanted to get married right away.
Equality Ohio Executive Director Elyzabeth Holford soon arrived, megaphone in hand, and read part of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s ruling.
“They ask for equality dignity in the eyes of the law. The constitution grants them that right.”
Nearby stood King Avenue United Methodist Church Reverend John Keeny, a proponent of same-sex marriage in a denomination staunchly divided over the issue. He holds blessings for same-gender couples at his church.
“It’s a great day for community. It’s a great day for Ohio that same gender couples can marry and bring that stability to our neighborhoods and our communities that married couples bring naturally to a society," Keeny said.
But not everyone was pleased with the ruling. Governor John Kasich expressed his disappointment to the Dayton Daily News. He told the paper that he feels that marriage is between a man and a woman. But he said the High Court’s decision will be followed.
“They’ve made their decision and we just move on,” he said.
Some, though, do not intend to move on. Appearing on All Sides with Ann Fisher today, Charles Tassel of the group Citizens for Community Values vowed to continue the fight against gay marriage.
"It's a complete travesty, and just like Roe v Wade it will kick off a whole ‘nother national battle. And we'll continue to oppose anything but one man, one woman as the definition of marriage," Tassel said.
Phil Burress, with the same group, added that the fight isn’t over.
“We’ll be asking questions of any candidates running for office whether or not they believe in life for the unborn and also in natural marriage," he said. "And if they are wrong on either one of those issues. And if they are wrong we will oppose them, and if they are right we will support them.”
But Friday, Jimmie Beall’s not thinking about another fight. Beall’s mind is on what she can finally call her partner Mindy Ross: "wife."
"Up to this point in time, it’s been like, what do you call her? And people say she’s my friend. She’s more than my friend. So to have, you know, that’s a legal term, to have a wife," Beall said.