Same-sex couples flock to Jefferson Parish for marriage licenses

Same-sex couples flock to Jefferson Parish for marriage licenses

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - On Monday a dozen same-sex couples headed to Jefferson Parish, the first local parish to issue marriage licenses.

Sonja Mathers and Carolyn Williams can't hide their excitement after receiving a marriage license at the Jefferson Parish Government Complex in Gretna. "It's a happy feeling to finally do something that we haven't been able to do for so long," Mathers said.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage would be legal across the country. But some states, like Louisiana, didn't readily issue licenses.

Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer explains, "We spent the weekend examining the opinion, and my counsel made his decision this morning. His opinion was you must comply with the order now. It's definitive."

Gegenheimer says the parish set the stage for a domino effect across the state. The very first people in Louisiana to get a license were two employees from Gegenheimer's office.

"Never thought I'd live to see the day. It took us 38 years to get to this point," Alesa Leboeuf said.

Leboeuf and Celeste Autin are planning a big wedding. Others, like Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin, headed straight for a judge. In fact, they're the first couple to be legally married in Louisiana.

While a couple typically has to wait 72 hours after receiving a marriage license before they can tie the knot, a judge may waive the waiting period. Judges in Orleans Parish were the first to do so Monday. Then, some in Jefferson Parish jumped on board.

Jen and Diana Chandler were one of a handful of couples who wanted to seal the deal immediately after getting a license. "Excited and just emotional and really overwhelmed," Diana Chandler said.

The couple is expecting their first child next week.

"Now we'll both be on the birth certificate and that's really important to us," Jen Chandler said.

It's an historic day in Louisiana. One which won't soon be forgotten by the couples who now consider this date the start of their future.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.