Couples, officials, foes prepare for high court’s same-sex marriage ruling

Shelly Bailes, 74, left, and her wife, Ellen Pontac, 73, both of Davis, Calif., kiss in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

Shelly Bailes, 74, left, and her wife, Ellen Pontac, 73, both of Davis, Calif., kiss in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, April 28, 2015. Cliff Owen, AP

Shelly Bailes, 74, left, and her wife, Ellen Pontac, 73, both of Davis, Calif., kiss in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, April 28, 2015. Cliff Owen, AP

Shelly Bailes, 74, left, and her wife, Ellen Pontac, 73, both of Davis, Calif., kiss in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

With a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage expected any day now, gay couples in states with bans are making wedding plans, courthouse officials are getting ready for different scenarios and steadfast foes are working on their strategies to keep up the opposition.

Marriage license bureaus are bracing for a rush of applicants if the court overturns bans. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of planning sessions by groups that intend to explore religious objection responses to protect “traditional marriage” limited to heterosexuals.

Ethan Fletcher, left, and Andrew Hickam are gearing up for a quick run to the courthouse in Ohio if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage.Dan Sewell, AP

Ethan Fletcher, left, and Andrew Hickam are gearing up for a quick run to the courthouse in Ohio if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage.

Pastor Greg Bullard is shown outside his chapel in Madison, Tenn. Bullard intends to perform same-sex weddings in the chapel if the U.S. Supreme Court lifts the state's gay marriage ban. Mark Humphrey, AP

Pastor Greg Bullard is shown outside his chapel in Madison, Tenn. Bullard intends to perform same-sex weddings in the chapel if the U.S. Supreme Court lifts the state’s gay marriage ban.

Gay couples, such as Ethan Fletcher and Andrew Hickam of Cincinnati, are gearing up for a quick run to the courthouse in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee – the states involved in the cases that were argued in April before the justices.

They’re among 14 states that ban same-sex marriage, and if the high court rules in favor of gay marriage, it would apply nationally.

Fletcher, 31, a University of Cincinnati senior academic adviser, and Hickam, 30, a GE Aviation engineer, have arranged to take off work to get their license if the decision allows immediate same-sex marriages and will then plan a formal wedding. They became engaged nearly two years ago but decided against getting married in another state as long as there was the possibility they could do it at home.

“Well, we live here and we pay taxes here and our families live here,” said Fletcher, adding that they want his grandmother and Hickam’s mother to be able to attend. “We didn’t feel that it was reasonable for us to have to travel out of state for the freedom to marry.”

In Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is located, the marriage license bureau said other courthouse staffers have been cross-trained and forms are available online to help speed the process. Court officials in Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, say they’re prepared to process triple the usual number of applications.

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Probate Court Judge Jan Michael Long, of Pickaway County, near Columbus, said he and other probate judges met to discuss potential rulings and their impacts. There are a lot of procedural issues involving the need for gender-neutral wording and who gets legal notifications, he said, and it could be complicated depending on when the court ruling becomes effective and how it’s worded.

In Ingham County, Michigan, Clerk Barb Byrum said she might not wait for a new marriage license form from the state, and could simply white-out “bride” and “groom” on the application when she gets the legal green light.

She has collected dozens of email addresses from local same-sex couples to notify them of the Supreme Court decision when she knows it. She was among four clerks who issued licenses on a Saturday during a 24-hour period in 2014 when gay marriage in Michigan was legal between court orders.

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