UPDATE: Same-sex marriages begin in the South

Gay Pride RainbowTues., 10/7/14 4:48 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Gay and lesbian couples are getting legally married in the South for the first time, crossing a threshold into a conservative region that long stood united against same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to turn away appeals from a handful of states including Virginia means marriage bans are unconstitutional throughout the 4th U.S. Circuit. And that means similar bans in West Virginia and North and South Carolina should fall as soon as judges in each state follow through on the appellate court’s orders. Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield County challenged Virginia’s ban, wanting their California marriage to be recognized in the state where they are raising a 16-year-old daughter. But as with other civil rights battles, plenty of southern conservatives seem determined to fight to the bitter end.

(Continue reading for earlier versions of this story.)

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Mon., 10/6/14 3:11 p.m.

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ Erika Turner and Jennifer Melsop decided they had waited long enough. When the Centreville couple heard Monday that same-sex marriages could go forward in Virginia following a Supreme Court decision, they drove to Arlington to get their license. They said they expected a long line. Instead, they found waiting television cameras, a Unitarian minister waiting to perform a ceremony for any willing couple, and a same-sex marriage advocates offering to pay their $30 license fee. They married on the courthouse steps, less than two hours after the courts officially began issuing licenses. The couple, both 26, had planned to get married next year but said they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity immediately once it presented itself.

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Mon., 10/6/14 2:34 p.m.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way by turning away several appeals, gay couples have started marrying in Virginia. Thirty-year-old Lindsey Oliver and 42-year-old Nicole Pries received the first same-sex marriage license issued from the Richmond Circuit Court Clerk’s office shortly after 1 p.m. Monday. Upon leaving the courthouse, they were married by gay-rights advocate The Rev. Robin Gorsline. The couple said Monday also was the anniversary of a commitment ceremony they held on a North Carolina beach three years ago. Earlier Monday, the Supreme Court unexpectedly and tersely turned away appeals from five states, including Virginia, seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. Oliver said shortly after her wedding that she believes gay marriage will soon be legal throughout the country.

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Mon., 10/6/14 2:22 p.m.

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is praising the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriages to go forward in Virginia and says they will go forward immediately.  At a press conference Monday in Arlington, Herring said that all Virginia local court clerks must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Herring, a Democrat who supports same sex marriage and argued in federal court that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage should be struck down, said it was a historic day and that he is proud that Virginia was on the right side of the law and the right side of history. Solicitor General Stuart Rafael says all couples getting married in Virginia will now fill out a license that identifies each party as “spouse” rather than “husband” or “wife.”

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Mon., 10/6/14 1:16 p.m.

From Attorney General Mark Herring: “The 4th Circuit has issued its mandate and marriage licenses may now be issued to ALL couples in Virginia.”

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Mon., 10/6/14 11:27 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Richmond-based federal appeals court says its ruling authorizing same-sex marriages in Virginia will take effect Monday afternoon. According to the clerk’s office, the mandate will be issued at 1 p.m. Court clerks will be able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after that time.  The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for an immediate expansion of same-sex marriage by unexpectedly turning away appeals from Virginia and four other states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. The court’s order effectively makes gay marriage legal now in 30 states. Without comment, the justices brought to an end delays in same-sex marriages in five states: Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin as well as Virginia.

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Original post Mon., 10/6/14 10:09 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages, paving the way for an immediate expansion of gay and lesbian unions. The justices on Monday did not comment in rejecting appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The court’s order immediately ends delays on marriage in those states. Couples in six other states should be able to get married in short order. That would make same-sex marriage legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. But the justices have left unresolved for now the question of same-sex marriage nationwide.

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