FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It was a busy Thursday at the Allen County Courthouse after a judge ruled the state’s same sex marriage ban unconstitutional on Wednesday. NewsChannel 15 had the opportunity to meet several couples and even attend a few ceremonies. They all have different stories, but they all said it’s a big step forward for Indiana.
Several couples getting married Thursday have been together for more than a decade.
“I didn’t realize that she liked me and everybody kept telling me that she did and I’d say no, we’re just friends, but it turned out they were all right and I just wasn’t seeing it,” Lisa Thompson said.
She and her partner, Teresa Mantock, met at a bar 17 years ago and have been together ever since.
“Here we are now, 17 years later, still together, and a lot of people are surprised that we lasted that long because it’s hard. We are just like everybody else,” Mantock said.
The two hadn’t planned on getting married, but said Wednesday’s ruling changed everything.
“I told her I’d never get married, but as soon as it passed, I asked her. We started digging through everything that we needed to have all the proper paperwork ready. It’s just a life time commitment of standing beside somebody through the good and the bad, the right, and the wrong,” Thompson said.
Other couples planned on going elsewhere to tie the knot. William and Justin Copper have been together for 11 years. The two planned on getting married in Colorado Springs, but decided to get married on the courthouse green Thursday afternoon.
“I was sincerely shocked that Indiana had repealed it. I think it’s a big step forward for Indiana and I think it’s going to help Indiana in the long run,” William said.
They two said they’ll still have a ceremony in Colorado Springs, but being able to get married in the Hoosier state means a lot to both of them.
“Finally being accepted for who I am and for who I love. It just validates your life a lot. I don’t think people think about that, but it really does,” William said.
Felisha Parr and Leslie Colwell have been together for seven years. Felisha’s older sister is Leslie’s best friend and introduced the two. They were planning on going to Chicago next September to get married, but also applied for their license Thursday at the Allen County Courthouse. They will still have a ceremony and celebration in Chicago, but decided to have an official ceremony at the courthouse.
“I figured Indiana would come along, but I didn’t think it would be this soon,” Parr said.
She said they’re grateful to have equal rights and freedoms now.
“We’re a couple like anyone else, and we’ve been together years and years, and we just want the same rights,” Parr said.
Reverend Skip Crouch has been a minister for 22 years. He said his phone has been ringing off the hook since Wednesday’s ruling.
“It just means that everybody gets a shot at being happy. People are people. Love is love,” said Crouch.
For these couples, getting married in Indiana means much more than just a legal document. Amanda and Ana Perez have been together for four years. Amanda is a singer and said it’s important to her to speak up and represent equality for all same-sex couples. She said getting married is an example for others who may be too afraid to do the same.
“It’s exciting, it’s been a long time, and I’m happy that they’re finally allowing us to be free. We should have the same right as anybody else. Our love doesn’t change. Our hearts are the same as everybody elses. This means a lot to a lot of people. A lot of people have been waiting. I’ve seen a lot of people who have obviously been together for a lot of years and this means a lot to them too. There’s a lot of us here. It’s a great thing and they need to keep it. We deserve it, we really do,” Amanda said.
Amanda proposed to Ana last year. Ana has a four-year-old daughter, Valerie, who attended their ceremony at the courthouse. Amanda and Ana have been dating since Valerie was a baby. They said getting married represents the start of a new chapter in their lives.
“It’s possible. When two people love each other, that they can spend the rest of their lives together, no matter what the sex is. I’m just over happy. I just can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her,” Amanda said.
At last check, the Allen County clerk’s office had issued at least 37 marriage licenses today. The previous record for number of marriage licenses in one day here was 30.