Monday, April 27, 2009

Iowa same-sex marriages begin as dozens of couples apply for licenses | | The Des Moines Register

Iowa same-sex marriages begin as dozens of couples apply for licenses | | The Des Moines Register

Dozens of gay couples applied for Iowa marriage licenses this morning, and the first legal gay weddings under a new Supreme Court ruling took place shortly afterward.

Gay couples showed up first thing this morning at recorders' offices in Polk County and elsewhere around the state. At 8 a.m., the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling went into effect, and recorders began issuing marriage licenses.

gallery Photo gallery: Iowa begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Melisa Keeton and Shelley Wolfe were the first same-sex couple with a license in hand at the Polk County administration building, and Judge Karen Romano granted the Des Moines couple a waiver to the standard three-day waiting period.

Wolfe and Keeton exchanged vows outside the Polk County administration building shortly before 10 a.m., surrounded by friends, relatives and news crews.

The ceremony makes Wolfe and Keeton the second same-sex couple to marry in Polk County, but the first to wed after the landmark supreme-court decision.
The first couple was Iowa State University students Tim McQuillan and Sean Fritz.

Wolfe and Keeton kissed and hugged as the ceremony ended.

"By the power vested in the state of Iowa and God, I now declare you legally married," said their pastor, Peg Esperanza of the CHS Rainbow Cyber Church.
"What an honor," Esperanza added. "Amen!"

Wolfe, 38, and Keeton, 31, had a commitment ceremony about two years ago.

Lori Blachford, a Drake University journalism professor, stood in line outside the recorder's office early Monday. As television cameras surrounded the dozens of couples in line, she talked about how life with her partner of
25 years, Karen Utke, is going to change.

"We're living the married life, same as our parents did, painfully and traditionally boring," said Blachford, who is 45.

But even though they've been together so long, the concept of marriage didn't seem to have fully set in. Blachford first introduced her partner as "my friend," then stuttered and settled on "my Karen." They have two sons, age 13 and 17, conceived with an anonymous sperm donor.

"They're grown up with us just acting like a married couple and in a normal family," Blachford said. "But they understand the legal issues. They realize the inequity. They don't understand why we should be treated any different."

The couple plan to get married in the summer. "It's a little anti-climactic to us," Blachford said. "Twenty-five years of married life, it kind of seems silly to organize a ceremony. But we're thrilled to be able to do it."

Denny Schrock and Patrick Phillips-Schrock wore tuxedos to the recorder's office. They've together five years, and had a commitment ceremony three years ago at the Unitarian Universalist church in Des Moines.

"I didn't think this would happen in my lifetime," the 58-year-old Phillips-Schrock, a retired high school French teacher who is originally from Jefferson but now lives in Urbandale, said. "It's incredible. In Iowa, of all places!"

Gay couples also applied for licenses in several other counties, including Dubuque, Pottawattamie, Harrison, Mills, Fremont and Woodbury.

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