First same-sex marriage license issued in county

After a monumental ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage Friday, the first same-sex marriage license was issued to a Madison County couple Tuesday.

Probate Judge Christopher Brown said the court received the “neutral” licenses Wednesday, June 24, as they anticipated a decision the following Friday or Monday. Brown said as soon as the decision was rendered on June 26, the licenses were available here in the county.

“We were ready to issue them at that time,” Brown said.

The supreme court vote was narrow — a 5-4 decision — but Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion stated: “The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.”

The ruling issued last week will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintains them, and provide an exclamation point for significant changes in the nation’s social norms in recent years. As recently as last October, just over one-third of the states permitted gay marriages.

The ruling did not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration. But county clerks in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas began issuing licenses to same-sex couples within hours of the decision.

Despite the controversy that followed the decision, Brown said it is the court’s job to impose the law.

“The Supreme Court of the United States has issued a ruling,” Brown said. “It’s my job as the probate judge to follow that ruling.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Brandon Semler can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or via Twitter @BrandonSemler.