Updated: 7:30 p.m. EDT
CINCINNATI — Same-sex marriages began Friday across Ohio within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that rejected the state’s 2004 ban and allowed such unions anywhere in the country.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley officiated at a simple ceremony just before noon for Tim Walsh and Kery Gray, concluding with: “I declare that you are now husband and husband according to the laws of the state of Ohio.”
In Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Probate Court issued 18 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and Judge Anthony Russo officiated at six weddings.
“We’re like any couple. Now we’re like any married couple,” said Christopher Richardson, who married his partner of 18 years, Keith Garrett.
In Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley married five couples on the downtown Fountain Square late in the afternoon as hundreds of onlookers snapped photos and cheered.
“A year ago, I would have told you this wouldn’t have happened,” said Barbara Eisenhardt, 61, who married her partner of 20 years, Tiffany Wahl, 51, saying they were glad they waited to get married in Ohio after previously considering going to another state.
Top Ohio officials who have defended the voter-passed ban, including Attorney General Mike DeWine and Gov. John Kasich, said they continue to believe in marriage as between a man and woman.
But the governor also said the court’s decision should be respected. “That’s the law of the land,” Kasich said. “That’s the way that America functions.”
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On Friday, the lead plaintiff in the case received a congratulatory phone call and thanks for his efforts from President Barack Obama.
“Our love is equal,” said Jim Obergefell, a Cincinnati man who has been in Washington awaiting the ruling. He and his dying partner, John Arthur, got married in 2013 aboard a specially equipped medical plane on a tarmac in Maryland. Arthur died three months later, but the couple initiated a lawsuit over the issue of their marriage’s recognition on Arthur’s death certificate soon after returning home.
“This is for you, John,” Obergefell told reporters outside the court Friday.