Same-sex marriage licenses were slow to take off in Elkhart County, with only six issued to local couples by noon Thursday.
That number more than tripled by the time the county clerk’s office closed Thursday afternoon.
Twelve same-sex couples in Elkhart and seven in Goshen were issued marriage licenses Thursday. With the two licenses issued yesterday, 21 licenses total have been issued to same-sex couples in Elkhart County.
Arthur Williams and Frank Beebe, together 17 years, were one of the the last two couples to leave the county clerk’s office in Elkhart.
For them, marriage means legal rights opposite-sex couples might take for granted.
They’ll have more legal security if something happens to them, and they hope Williams will be covered by Beebe’s work benefits now.
“I don’t think they can deny it,” said Beebe, who works at a Shipshewana RV factory. “We’ll see what happens.”
Whether or not the attorney general’s appeal for a stay is approved, Beebe believes change is coming. Williams said when the Supreme Court struck down federal laws against same-sex marriage, it became a state-by-state decision.
“Now each state has the right to allow us to live our lives,” he said. “About time Indiana steps up to the twentieth century.”
Jerilynn Adkins and Jennifer Hayes, who have been planning their wedding for a while, left the office shortly after Beebe and Williams.
They’d thought about having a ceremony before, Adkins said, smiling, but now that ceremony will mean a legal marriage.
She was annoyed, though, that she and Hays had to rush to the courthouse for their license before their window closed. The state attorney general issued an emergency request for a stay that could temporarily keep Indiana counties from issuing licenses to same-sex couples, and couples have been hurrying to get their license before the stay is granted.
“We should get the same rights. It should be that easy,” Adkins said. “I should be able to plan my wedding date to the day I want.”
She and Hays have been together for eight years, since Adkins’ children were one and three years old.
“It’s not like we’re together a week and wanted to get married,” she said. “Straight couples can do that. We’re a family.”
Holding the marriage license and smiling, Adkins skipped away from the courthouse next to Hays.
“This is a great thing,” Hays said.
The county clerk’s office is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. Couples can apply for marriage licenses at that time.