Just hours later,the two 26-year-olds became the first same-sex couple in Arlington County,Va.,to obtain a marriage license. They were married immediately,just outside the courthouse.
“She came up to me crying and said ‘I think we can get married today,’” Turner,who has been with Melsop for four years,said. “We didn’t know we were the first when we got here.”
“We thought we would be in a long line,waiting for this moment,” Melsop said,finishing her now-wife’s sentence.
The Supreme Court decided not to hear seven cases from five states pertaining to same-sex marriage. It instead deferred to lower courts,which all ruled in favor of same-sex couples.
The ruling allows same-sex couples to adopt children,join employment benefits,file joint tax returns and be granted the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Or as Arlington County Clerk of Courts Paul Ferguson said,“Now same-sex couples will be treated just like everyone else.”
The court’s ruling allows same-sex marriage in five states: Indiana,Oklahoma,Utah,Virginia and Wisconsin.
Making sure Virginia residents could see this day has been a campaign promise of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
“I think the fact that the Supreme Court has let these rulings stand should be a strong message of the court’s leanings,” Herring said at a press conference outside the Arlington courthouse.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin,D-30,one of two members of the Virginia General Assembly who is openly gay,said Monday was an “exciting day to see Virginia waking up from history with the rest of the country; whereas our commonwealth has not always been on the frontlines of making civil rights strides. … It’s kind of surreal how quickly this has happened,and it’s wonderful.”
The ruling,or lack thereof,was major win for same-sex marriage advocates,but full equality has a ways to go.
In Virginia,a person can still be fired for his or her sexual orientation or for being in a same-sex marriage,Ebbin said.
Throughout the ceremony,anti-gay epithets and slurs bellowed from the windows of the jail next door.
The Rev. Linda Olsen Peebles,a minister of faith in action at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington,showed up to the event just in case couples decided to get married after receiving their certificates. She officiated at Turner and Melsop’s ceremony.
“My faith tells me that all of creation is blessed and that God created each individual to live their life fully,” Peebles said. “And so every single person has the right … to have all the same rights as every other individual.”
Reach reporter Lucas Daprile or 202-408-1490. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.