The First Same-Sex Marriages In the Former Confederacy

Jim Burroway

May 10th, 2014

They took place in scenic Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which is both a gay-friendly enclave (it’s “the Gay Capital of the Ozarks“) and a popular wedding destination. From Freedom to Marry:

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 couple drove up to Eureka Springs from Little Rock when they learned the Pulaski County courthouse wouldn’t be open today. The AP has more:

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.

The Carroll County Courthouse was the only one scheduled to open today for regular hours, and it’s due to close at 1:00 p.m. CDT. Here’s the scene when it opened:

As for the other counties in Arkansas:

The executive director of the Association of Arkansas Counties says county clerks are scrambling to prepare for same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses after the state’s ban on gay marriages was overturned.

Chris Villines says he and his staff will spend Saturday talking with county clerks and attorneys about the ramifications of Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling Friday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

…Villines says he expects most clerks to be able to issue same-sex marriage licenses starting Monday.

That’s if the decision isn’t stayed before then.

jpeckjr

May 10th, 2014

A geographical quibble . . . the Mason-Dixon Line is the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland. The first same-sex marriages below the Mason-Dixon Line happened in those states.

Former Confederacy, yes.

Jim Burroway

May 10th, 2014

Thanks for the correction. I’ve changed the headline

DJ

May 10th, 2014

*AHEM* As a proud Marylander – born and raised – I must concur with jpeckjr. Our state was the first below the Mason-Dixon to have legally wed same-sex couples. But point taken. We are not generally considered part of “the South” (for better or worse), so I’ll grant that this marks the first gay wedding of the South (proper) :)

jpeckjr

May 10th, 2014

Thanks for changing the headline.

Eric Payne

May 10th, 2014

My hope: all the couples in a “rush to the courthouse,” are marrying for the right reason, and not just to get their names in the paper, or a slot in the 11:00 news. I don’t care the length of time of a relationship — as a man married to my husband for four years, after 15 years together, I can tell you — marriage changes things.

I can’t tell you how it changes things, because the differences are subtle and nuanced. But there are changes… for instance, neither Bill nor myself refer to the other as “partner” or even “spouse,” as we used to do, when dealing with the “real” world. Both of us describe the other as “husband,” and if the “real world” doesn’t like it… oh, well. Tough mammary glands.

There’s also a change in feelings. The security in the law of our relationship led to a deeper comfortability with each other, and with how we interact in our lives with others. Our neighbor has all of Bill’s phone numbers, in case of emergency with me and I’m unable to contact him. Our grocery store employees, if only one of us is shopping, ask where the other is.

(And if I should be shopping, and not on my Segway, I will be asked, continuously, if I’m okay. Jeez… collapse in a place and have to be taken out by ambulance just two times, and everyone gets so antsy!)

But the last thing the marriage equality movement needs right now — when the feeling of reaching a tipping point, nationally, feels so close — is a divorce rate that matches or, heaven help us, exceeds that of the 50-some percent heterosexual divorce rate.

JCF

May 11th, 2014

Something in my eyes. Damn onions….

Mazel Tov! :-D..

Regan DuCasse

May 11th, 2014

Hi Eric,
I was just thinking. How many and how often are gay people subjected to the weddings of their friends and family and having in the back of their minds it’s more like a pipe dream to DARE to hope?

My lesbian friends are of many varying ages. From late 70’s to early 20’s and their perspectives about their hetero women friends and mother’s experiences compared to their own has really been an education for me.
The older lesbians were all in marriages to men that ended in divorce. A few after being married to men for decades and raising their children together to adulthood.

The much younger ones, NEVER married before. Had mixed feelings about it at all because of divorces in their families. A similar sentiment to their straight counterparts and why some heteros aren’t marrying until later.

With the laws changing so fast, so is the lexicon.
I am hearing a ss spouse referred to as husband or wife.
I do notice my younger lesbian friends participating in the inevitable spate of weddings of their hetero age group happily.
Where before, they didn’t want to bear so much witness to something they had no hope of having themselves.
There isn’t the same pain of isolation, but more joy in being a full participant and definitely the hope and expectation of it.
And their own family members have the same hope and expectation THEY will marry a ss spouse and support it fully.
The gap of times between attending ss weddings myself is closing quickly.
The winds have definitely shifted and are blowing much stronger these days.

ERIC: You’re right, marriage changes things. But I’m of the mind that the eagerness and charge to the courthouse is out of sheer joy at the dropping of the barrier to it.
Marriage open to gay couples certainly has changed things.

And as for the motive for marriage is to be in the media: It’s working for Kim Kardashian…

ron

May 11th, 2014

As a Eureka Springs, Ark. resident and friend of several ss couples who were able to get married here on Saturday, I don’t know of any who did it to be “mentioned in the media.” Some of the couples have been together for 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years.

Unlike many states, the judge in Ark. did not issue an immediate stay of his order. Couples rushed the county courthouse here (the only courthouse in the state open on Saturday) to get married, before a stay is requested next week by those appealing the ruling.

A happy day for many here in the South-Central US and Eureka Springs, Arkansas <—the wedding capital of the South.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

 

Latest Posts

Pope Francis: Church Must Apologize To Gay People, Others

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1952: Congress Bars Gay People From Immigrating

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1964: "Homosexuality In America"

Today In History, 1965: Gay Rights Advocates Picket the Civil Service Commission

Today In History, 2003: U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Nation's Sodomy Laws

Today In History, 2013: U.S. Supreme Court Declares Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.