The Newlyweds

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage, and couples around the country raced to their local courthouses. Some had already had a more traditional ceremony. Some had been planning to get married in other states. All wondered when marriage equality's day would come. These are some of their stories, in their own words.

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In the days leading up to Friday, June 26, 2015, Taylor and Kelly Martinelli knew something big was coming. They had received a newsletter from the Human Rights Campaign announcing that the Supreme Court would rule on marriage equality by the end of the week, and they were determined to be part of history. "That week we followed the news closely so we could find out exactly what day they would be deciding," Taylor Martinelli (née Nash) says. "We waited at the courthouse all day Wednesday and Thursday. We were so optimistic. We had decided that when the law passed, we would get married that day for a couple of reasons: we thought it would be so cool to be able to say we got married on that historical day, and because we were afraid the law would pass, but maybe the state would try to fight it."

Tadd Roberts and Benjamin Moore cut the cake at their wedding, just days before the Supreme Court ruling.
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The couple had recently gotten engaged and planned on getting married in a state where same-sex marriage was legal before having a larger ceremony back in Georgia for family and friends. When the ruling was finally announced that Friday, the Martinellis were already waiting at the courthouse and became the first same-sex couple to get a marriage certificate in their county. A more formal ceremony followed in January 2016, but there was no denying it, marriage-equality history had been made that day, and the Martinellis were part of it.

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Colby and Zachary took Colby's grandmother's maiden name, Roanhorse, as their new last name.

Theirs is not the only love story that claims June 26, 2015, as a milestone, of course. Hundreds of couples around the country hurried to their local courthouses that day, aching to make legal what had been denied them for so long.


The Martinellis

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Taylor and Kelly Martinelli; Atlanta, GA

(Note: Taylor took Kelly's last name.)

Ages: Both 22  

Occupations: Kelly is a private investigator. Taylor is a restaurant manager.

What did you do when you heard about the Supreme Court's ruling?

Taylor: "All day Wednesday we waited outside the courthouse listening to the news. It didn't happen that day. We waited again Thursday, but it wasn't that day either. Optimistic, we got up that Friday and headed down to the courthouse.

The couple appeared on a CNN talk show after receiving their marriage license.

We were standing with a Fox 5 reporter who knew another reporter who was in the courtroom in Washington, DC. He was on the phone with the other reporter, and he looks at us and says "It passed!" We jumped in line and asked for an application. We filled it out and returned it to the clerk. She told us they would have to review all of the paperwork on the new law before she could issue us a license. We waited for about an hour when a man came up to us and congratulated us and handed us our license."

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Applying for the license!

What did you do to celebrate getting an official license?

"We had gotten engaged on April 24, 2015 and fully planned on going out of state where we could get legally married, and then have a ceremony in Georgia. But the fact that our marriage license came from the place Kelly and I grew up felt amazing! We got the license and waited for two hours to find someone to marry us since all of the judges already had court that day.

The Martinellis encouraged family unity at their wedding.

What was your vision for your wedding ceremony?

"When we pictured our wedding, we wanted to have it at the DeKalb Historical Courthouse that is now a wedding venue. We both love the color blue, so that was our wedding color. Kelly wore a tux, and I wore a wedding dress. I walked down the aisle to 'Bittersweet Symphony' by The Verve to meet my beautiful bride. We danced to our song 'Crash Into Me' by Dave Matthews Band. Our god children were our flower girls and ring bearer. My best friends Emily and Jordan stood with me, and Kelly's cousin Austyn and sister Kristi stood with her."

Taylor and her attendants!

Any advice for newlyweds?

"Being patient and listening to your partner is the best way to push through challenges. If something goes wrong, work on it. Be your partner's best friend and biggest fan. Always ask how their day was, always tell them you love them any chance you get, and never keep score. Being married to the right person makes your life feel so complete and waiting for that person is the best thing you can do for yourself."

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The couple knew they wanted to get married at the courthouse as soon as the ruling was announced.

Any plans to celebrate the anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling?

"We both have requested the day off from work, so we will definitely do something. We're pretty spontaneous people so knowing us we'll jump in the car and go to the beach for a couple days, or celebrate with all of our friends over a couple of drinks."

The couple at their formal ceremony.

What other LGBTQ issues should we all be talking about more?

"My biggest issue, personally, is the hate that the LGBTQ community feels. I grew up in a southern Baptist home knowing the love of Jesus Christ. But as I've gotten older and since I've came out as a lesbian, I don't feel that anymore. I've been told numerous times by Christians that I'm going to hell for being the way that I am. According to the Bible, all sins are equal. So why are we so focused on this one sin, the sin of being a gay person? It's because the LGBTQ community is strong, and we are willing to stand up and say 'I'm gay' without any fear of what people have to say. We are all humans who want the same thing; to love, be loved and to be accepted."

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Colby and Zachary Roanhorse

Colby and Zachary Roanhorse; Grand Rapids, MI

(Note: Zachary and Colby chose a completely new last name for their new family.)

Ages: Both 24

Occupations: Zachary works for Health Net of West Michigan, a healthcare nonprofit. Colby works at the ReChaco and Urban Institute for the Contemporary Arts.

Where were you when you heard about the Supreme Court's ruling? 

Zachary: "At work."

Colby: "At home."

What did you do? 

Zachary: "We both left immediately to run to the courthouse!"

This Grand Rapids couple had a stunning outdoor wedding.
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What was your vision for your previous wedding ceremony? 

"We got married on June 20, 2015, outdoors, on a sheep farm. All the decor was done by us, the music was done by us, and we had a local restaurant cater."

Any advice for newlyweds? 

"Take life as it comes, there will be wonderful days and there will be hard days. Being in love is easy when the days are wonderful, but it's truest when days are hard. Love is an active choice. Respect each other and have fun!"

Any plans to celebrate the anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling? 

"The whole week is an anniversary for us, and we're still not sure which day counts as our real anniversary, so we'll probably just continue the festivities."

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The day the ruling was announced!

What other LGBTQ issues should we all be talking about more? 

"Violence, particularly against transgender individuals and LGBTQ individuals of color. It's time to take trans issues seriously and fight alongside our fellow humans that fought alongside cisgender LGBTQ individuals for marriage equality."

What was the inspiration for your new last name? 

"We chose the name Roanhorse, which was Colby's maternal grandmother's last name. She lived in Roanhorse Canyon on the Navajo Nation. She adopted and fostered many children in need, even when she didn't have much for herself. She spent her whole life in service to others, and that is the kind of example we wanted to take for our new life together."


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Louisville, KY

Ages: Ben is 32, Tadd is 34.

Occupations: Ben is an Economic Development Manager for Louisville Metro. Tadd is an emergency room physician.

Where were you when you heard about the Supreme Court's ruling?

Ben: "I was at work, following the live-stream online closely. When the news came through, colleagues began cheering and shouting from their offices. Tadd and I were on the phone together and both of us broke into tears of joy!"

The couple had a large wedding just one week before the ruling.

What did you do?

Ben: "We somewhat jokingly said we should meet up at lunch and go get our license. The weekend before we had our big wedding surrounded by hundreds of friends and family. Then we saw there would be no stay on the decision. I called a friend at the courthouse and he said the new forms were on their way. Tadd came down to my office and we decided to run home and change into our tuxedos from the week before."

Fresh flowers and a glittering chandelier made for formal touches.

What did you do to celebrate getting an official license?

"Upon returning to work in our tuxedos, we walked with some of my colleagues over to the courthouse. Our parents met us along with our minister. We were greeted by cheers and applause the entire two blocks! Following our 'legal' marriage we went home, opened gifts from the previous week's wedding, and then went to see Disney/Pixar's Inside Out."

Finally at the altar, nearly two years after getting engaged.

What was your vision for your wedding ceremony?

"The entire planning process took almost two years, from finding a site to testing out vendors. Everyone we worked with was truly excited to be working with a same-sex couple, which was very much a relief. We wanted a ceremony and celebration that was bright and fun, full of love, and surrounded by family and friends. A ceremony that we would be proud of years from now and look back on fondly as a beautiful and magical day."

The first dance!

Did you encounter any trouble in getting the license?

"Absolutely no trouble. The Mayor of Louisville came down to the clerk's office to congratulate the first couples. He brought champagne and even officially signed as a witness to our license. I think he wanted to be there to show his support for the couples as well as ensure that everything went smoothly."

Moore shares a dance with his mother.

Any advice for newlyweds?

"The first year can only be made more exciting by purchasing your dream home and renovating said home. But really, marriage changes things for the better. That feeling of legal and societal acceptance relieves a pressure you didn't even know existed in your relationship."

Parents and grooms!

Any plans to celebrate the anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling?

"We hope to have a quiet evening at home, cook dinner. Maybe watch Inside Out again!"

Roberts took to the dancefloor with his mom, too.

What other LGBT issues should we all be talking about more?

"Increasing violence and persistence of hate crimes. Local fairness legislation and state legislatures working to undo local ordinances. Getting out and getting involved—marching, voting—it all matters and change happens, sometimes faster than we think."

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