Updated: 8:30 p.m. EDT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Timothy Love was at the head of the line Friday with his same-sex partner of 35 years to obtain the marriage license he fought for in the courts.
Cheers went up from friends and supporters when the paperwork was completed in the county clerk’s office, a few hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex couples have a right to marry in all 50 states. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer handed the couple a bottle of champagne.
Love and his partner, Larry Ysunza, had been at the clerk’s office before, only to be denied a marriage license. Love was the lead plaintiff in the case that led a federal judge to strike down Kentucky’s ban on gay marriage – a precursor to the historic ruling by the high court.
“We wanted to be here first in line because we were the ones who were denied,” said Love, his arm draped over Ysunza’s shoulder.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told county clerks to immediately issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
“Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe. But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act,” Beshear wrote in a letter to the clerks. “Effective today, Kentucky will recognize as valid all same sex marriages performed in other states and in Kentucky.”
The ruling drew elation from gay-rights supporters as same-sex couples started obtaining marriage licenses in Louisville.
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They were married in a brief ceremony in the clerk’s office.
About 200 jubilant gay-rights supporters rallied in downtown Louisville on Friday evening. Participants chanted “Love Wins” before the event was cut short by a thunderstorm that dumped heavy rain.
“Today the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed what we all knew, that our love is equal, our love is worthy and our love is legal,” said Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who is gay, called it a historic day that “means a lot to me personally.” He spoke to a boisterous crowd at the Fairness Awards at Keeneland on Friday night, calling the ruling “another milestone in the long arch of freedom’s history.”