Getting Married

U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young ruled that Indianaâ??s discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Wednesday Gay Couples got married at the Allen County Courthouse.

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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Harriet Miller applies for a marriage license Wednesday afternoon at the Allen County Courthouse.

City couples young and old rush to wed

– Harriet Miller was the first to show up Wednesday afternoon to park herself in front of the bank of public computers on the second floor of the Allen County Courthouse and fill out a digital marriage license application.

But the 77-year old Miller and her partner of 37 years, Monica Wehrle, weren't the first same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license and tie the knot hours after the state's ban on same-sex unions was overturned by a federal judge.

The distinction of first same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license in Allen County belonged to Kenny Edholm, 28, and his partner of 10 years, Josh Reid, 29.

Chalk it up to youth or Wehrle forgetting her driver's license, but the soon-to-be Edholms flew through their application and with obvious excitement marched up to the clerk's window and picked up their license.

They owed their spot, though, to Miller and Wehrle, who were close behind.

The lesbian couple were among the plaintiffs in the federal case that was consolidated and ruled on Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young in Indianapolis.

“I'm very happy, for us and all of Indiana,” Miller said. “We've worked long and hard for equal rights on many fields.”

Edholm and Reid, and Jacob Clayton, Wayne Hughes and their 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, were all among the first beneficiaries of the federal court ruling. For much of Wednesday afternoon, it was a steady stream of couples filling out forms and asking for a judge.

Hughes and Clayton, both 40, have been together for 17 years. For them, it was not just about the romantic idea of being married but the practical, legal structure of a family.

Clayton stays at home with their daughter, and when he had a health problem that required surgery a few years ago, he was unable to address it. He did not qualify for Hughes' insurance because they were not legally married.

Clayton laughed and said they planned to get married one day in Iowa.

“I never thought we would get married in our home state,” he said.

Cradling a grinning and bouncy girl in his arms, Hughes said the new opportunity was both scary and awesome.

“It's a blessing; we get to be like everybody else,” he said. “It's a curse, too, because we get to be like everybody else.”

Miller waited for Wehrle at a marble railing in the courthouse. When she returned with her identification, they would finish the application and meet a judge somewhere to make it completely official. The couple has a trip planned for this week, so they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity as soon as possible.

Grabbing a cellphone from a television camera crew inside the clerk's office, Edholm summoned his brother, a licensed minister, to the Courthouse Green.

About 15 minutes later, flanked by Nikki Fultz, director of Fort Wayne Pride, and her wife, Kara Fultz, as witnesses, Reid and Edholm took each other as spouses and became the first same-sex couple to wed legally in Allen County.

The Fultzes married legally in Washington, D.C., but were also at the courthouse Wednesday afternoon to record their marriage officially with Indiana.

Nikki Fultz said Wednesday was a day they finally felt recognized as equal citizens.

rgreen@jg.net

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