News (USA)

Montana same-sex couples exchange vows after gay marriage ban tossed

Jamie Gumenberg, left, and Caylie Thompson are married by United Methodist minister Susan Otey at the Cascade County Courthouse in Great Falls, Mont., Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.
Jamie Gumenberg, left, and Caylie Thompson are married by United Methodist minister Susan Otey at the Cascade County Courthouse in Great Falls, Mont., Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.
Larry Beckner, The Great Falls Tribune (AP)

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is appealing the ruling, but won’t seek an immediate stay to block same-sex marriages while the case is pending. His spokesman, John Barnes, said the state was waiting for a San Francisco-based federal appeals court to set a schedule for the case.

Some couples said they were eager to say their vows in case Fox’s appeal prevails.

Danielle Egnew, a 45-year-old Billings musician, said she and Rebecca Douglas, 44, wanted to marry “in a positive legal climate.” She said the two already have a date for a larger ceremony — Sept. 15 — but were exchanging vows Thursday to be safe.

Montana, Kansas and South Carolina have continued their legal fight against gay marriage despite rulings in favor of the practice from federal appeals courts that oversee them.

In South Carolina, Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would fight to uphold the state’s constitutional ban even though the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday denied his emergency request to block gay marriages being performed there.

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The first licenses were issued Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina, and a lesbian couple exchanged vows on the courthouse steps.

Wilson noted the nation’s top court has not yet resolved conflicting rulings by federal appeals courts. He said a decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding gay marriage bans in several Midwest states means the matter likely will go to the high court.

Amy Wagner, 56, and Karen Langebeck, 48, of Livingston were among the first Montana couples to get their license after spending 22 years together.

“Being able to get married and introduce Karen as my wife — that’s a big deal,” Wagner said. “Now I have a way to describe this relationship that everybody understands.”

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