First same-sex couple weds in NOLA, makes history

First same-sex couple weds in NOLA, makes history

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Two men became the first same-sex couple to wed in New Orleans on Monday, and presumably the first in the state.

"In sickness and in health and to death do us part," said Earl Benjamin Jr. as he repeated after Orleans Parish Civil Court Judge Paula Brown.

With a small group of supporters looking on inside the small courtroom, representatives of news outlets snapped pictures and videotaped the historic wedding ceremony.

Louisiana's constitution banned same sex marriages, but on Friday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-gender couples must be allowed to wed in all 50 states.

Louisiana clerks of courts, which issue marriage licenses, held off on granting marriage licenses Friday on guidance from State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

But Monday morning, Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer began issuing licenses. Gegenheimer said he made the decision after speaking to legal counsel for his office.

A day earlier, Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is running for president, said the state would follow the law handed down by the highest court in the land.

"In the presence of God Almighty, I pronounce you, Michael Robinson, and you, Earl Benjamin Jr., to be legally married spouses under the laws of this nation and the state of Louisiana," said Judge Brown.

She performed the ceremony even though the couple got their license in Jefferson Parish. Orleans Parish had not begun issuing licenses at the time.

"I'm married, so it feels great - seriously it feels great. It feels great to hear those words coming from the judge," Robinson said.

"I'm just excited. Today is the first day of our new life as a married couple, and so that's exciting," Benjamin said.

For them, it was the end of a long journey. They have been a couple for 14 years.

"To have this day finally take place when for several years we never knew if it was actually going to happen, so it's great that it's happening, and it's great that it's happening in the state that we both love, Louisiana," Robinson said.

Normally there is a 72 hour waiting period to get married after obtaining the necessary license, but a judge can waive the waiting period. That is what happened in the case of Robinson and Benjamin.

"I'm just thankful for Jefferson Parish's clerk, and I'm also thankful for Judge Brown," said Benjamin.

Their celebration as a married couple is somewhat tempered.

"I have a paper due, so I have to get that done," said Benjamin, who is a doctoral student.

Still, months ago they planned a trip that happens to be this Saturday, not knowing they'd be married by then.

"We'll make it into a honeymoon. We're going to Disney World," said Robinson.

"It is history. It is history," Benjamin said.

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