Rush to wed after US ruling on gay marriage

The White House illuminated at dusk in rainbow-coloured lights, the symbolic colours of gay pride, in Washington, DC on Friday.
The White House illuminated at dusk in rainbow-coloured lights, the symbolic colours of gay pride, in Washington, DC on Friday.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

But resistance remains in areas in the Deep South, reflecting deep divisions in country

Washington - In Detroit, Atlanta and Austin, Texas, same-sex couples rushed to courthouses to get married. Here in the nation's capital, people wiped away tears as a gay men's chorus sang The Star-Spangled Banner on the marble steps of the Supreme Court. In Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley presided over a public same-sex wedding ceremony, as a guitarist played acoustic melodies near a fountain in a downtown square.

But within hours of the Supreme Court's historic decision on Friday to grant a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, there was confusion, delay and denunciation in some of the most conservative pockets of the Deep South, reflecting the deep divisions in the country over whether gay people should be able to legally wed.

The fiercest resistance appeared to come in Louisiana, where Attorney-General James Caldwell said the ruling "overturns the will of the people". State and federal officials there cited a legal technicality that, they said, could permit them to delay issuing same-sex marriage licences for as long as 25 days, disappointing couples who tried to apply.

 

  • News of the decision rocketed around social media, with 3.8 million people in the United States making 10.1 million related likes, posts, comments and shares on Facebook. In the four hours after the decision, Twitter recorded more than 6.2 million messages about the ruling.

And in Alabama, Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has led the charge against same-sex marriage in the state, compared Friday's decision to wrongly decided cases, including the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision, which held that African-Americans could not be citizens. He said he would continue to press for an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage.

"I believe that would be what it takes to overcome this errant Supreme Court," he said, adding: "There's got to be some way to draw them back to reality."

Not one of the candidates running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination next year supports allowing same-sex couples to marry and observers say the clash over the issue seems likely to smoulder into the 2016 primary season.

The front runner for the Democratic nomination, Mrs Hillary Clinton, issued a statement calling the court's decision "an affirmation of the commitment of couples across the country who love one another".

In remarks in the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama also welcomed it, saying it "affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts".

"Today," he said, "we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect."

The ruling overturned same-sex marriage bans in 13 states, and gay Americans broke out in joyous celebration, holding rallies, street parties, champagne toasts and instant weddings.

"It took 22 years to get this," said Ms Gina Dawson, 48, beaming as she and her long-time partner, Ms Charlotte Rutherford, 53, left the Travis County clerk's office in Austin, Texas, clutching their marriage licence. As they waited on Friday morning for the clerk's office to open, she said: "We sat in the parking lot and cried."

News of the decision rocketed around social media, with 3.8 million people in the United States making 10.1 million related likes, posts, comments and shares on Facebook. In the four hours after the decision, Twitter recorded more than 6.2 million messages about the ruling.

Corporate websites also took note. Delta splashed a rainbow flag across its landing page, with the tag line "Marriage Takes Flight" and Uber put little rainbow flags on the backs of cars on the main page of its ride-sharing app. Citi, which sponsors New York City's bike-share programme, put rainbows on its bicycles, dubbing the program #RideWithPride.

New York Times

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'Rush to wed after US ruling on gay marriage'. Print Edition | Subscribe