‘Wedding capital’ Las Vegas to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples

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Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas

Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas

OFFICIAL REACTION

U.S. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the ruling “puts us on the side of equality and the right side of history.”

“No longer will gay and lesbian Nevadans be told that their committed relationships are less than those of straight couples,” Reid said in a statement that called for extending similar rights to states that prohibit same-sex marriage. “We have much work to do to achieve this goal,” he said.

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., lauded the decision and predicted gay marriage soon would be allowed across the country. “This decision, along with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to decline hearing similar appeals, reaffirms the belief of so many Americans that love is love,” Horsford said.

OTHER PLAINTIFFS REJOICE

Tara Newberry, a Las Vegas lawyer and plaintiff in the case, called the ruling “the exact right result.”

“It sure makes explaining things to Evan a little easier when he asks, ‘Mom, are you married?’ ” she said.

Newberry married her partner, Adele Terranova, in California in 2008, and said it was difficult to explain to their 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter that they were married in one place but not another.

Newberry said they might not have another ceremony in Nevada because the appellate court order provides a legal underpinning to their marriage. “It’s validation that our family is the same as everyone else’s,” she said.

Greg Flamer said he and Fletcher Whitwell, partners for more than 16 years, planned to marry as soon as they can. They’re raising a 3-year-old daughter and toddler son in Las Vegas.

“I feel like we’ve joined the rest of society,” Flamer said Tuesday. “Now our kids are going to have parents who are married. That means a lot to us.”

WEDDING BOOM?

In Clark County, where more than 80,000 marriage licenses were issued last year, chapels and other wedding businesses braced for a boom.

“It’s just been a crazy day for us,” said Brian Mills, general manager of Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapels, which is gay-owned and operated.

Mills said the chapel holds about 500 same-sex commitment ceremonies annually, and October is the busiest month for weddings overall, including some with Dracula or Grim Reaper themes.

Washoe County issued 37,000 marriage licenses during the peak year of 1978 and only 8,800 last year. Officials there hoped the new law would give the wedding business a much-needed bump.

“I know that our wedding business has really suffered,” Parent said. “We hope that this will bring a lot of business that I know they’d be tickled to have.”

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