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Brown County couple make history


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Couples across the state rushed to get hitched in case an appeals court stepped in to stop them.

Clerks in Brown, St. Joseph, Boone, Hamilton, Monroe, Vanderburgh and other counties also began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In Nashville, Indiana, a history-making, same-sex marriage was conducted Wednesday afternoon.

Laughing Womyn Ashonosheni and Suzanne Kammerer were wed at a ceremony on the back steps of the county courthouse at 4 p.m.

“I was honored to do it,” said Brown County Clerk of Courts Beth Mulry, who conducted the ceremony after a brief conversation with an attorney.

Her entire staff joined Mulry for the ceremony, serving as photographers and witnesses.

“I felt like a kid in a candy store,” said Ashonosheni, who had waited 41 years for that moment. She and Kammerer have been a couple for 15 years.

“We shouldn’t have to go to another state,” Ashonosheni said. “We wanted to be able to marry in our own hometown.”

The couple received a phone call from a friend Wednesday informing them of the court ruling. They immediately called the county clerk’s office. Five minutes later they were filling out a marriage license application.

Indiana’s electronic marriage licensing system does not allow entries for same-sex marriage, so Mulry said she tracked down older paper forms. Even the standard marriage vows had to be altered on the fly, removing references to husbands and wives.

Mulry said Wednesday that her office will continue to issue same-sex marriage licenses unless the current ruling is overruled.

The Marion County clerk’s office started performing marriages right away and there was a line out the door of couples waiting for the service. Clerk Beth White offered simple civil ceremonies to couples for a $50 voluntary contribution to Indiana Youth Group and erected a wedding arch. The office planned to stay open late to accommodate couples seeking a license.

Shortly after they heard the news, Craig Bowen and Jake Miller became the first same-sex couple to marry in Marion County — and probably the state — when they got a license and had their ceremony in the clerk’s office.

“It felt right,” Bowen said of the couple’s decision to dash to the City-County Building after the ruling.

But other counties, including Bartholomew County, weren’t moving so quickly, in part because the forms they use for marriage licenses do not reflect a same-sex relationship status.

Lake County officials said they planned to wait at least a day until they received direction from state officials. The office of Attorney General Greg Zoeller said it would “communicate with county clerks on proper marriage license procedures they should follow in order to avoid chaos during the appeal.”

In Tippecanoe County, officials said they also are waiting for word from the attorney general before moving forward with same-sex marriage licenses.

Ken Falk, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which filed the suit, said it’s unclear whether the new marriages would stand should an appeals court issue a stay. But he advised same-sex couples who desire to get married to do so quickly.

Ben Skirvin of the Brown County Democrat, The Associated Press and the Franklin College Statehouse Bureau contributed to this report.

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