Mary Ann Ellis and Robin Idol, of Kernersville, became the first same sex couple Monday to be legally married in Forsyth County.
The couple was married by the Rev. Lisa Schwartz of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and the Rev. Ron LaRocque of Metropolitan Community Church of Winston-Salem, in front of the Forsyth County Government Center moments after receiving their marriage license.
“This is a day of liberation. This is a day of freedom. This is a day that love has won and you are a symbol of that love,” said Rev. LaRocque. “You are pioneers in one of the greatest civil rights movements of our day.”
Ellis and Idol were among the first same-sex couples who received marriage licenses from the Forsyth County Register of Deeds Office Monday. The U.S. Supreme court declined to hear an appeal last week on same-sex marriage from the 4th Circuit Court, opening the door for federal courts in North Carolina to rule on bans here. Last Friday, just after 5 p.m., U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., in Asheville, struck down Amendment One, North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage. Monday morning at 8am was the first chance for same sex couples to receive their marriage licenses in Forsyth County.
Ellis and Idol waited all day last Friday for a decision. The couple of eight years turned off the news around 5 pm and missed the late breaking news. Saturday morning, they woke up to texts from friends about the exciting news. By Saturday evening, they had already purchased their rings. Both of their mothers and their daughter Rose Idol, 15, were in attendance at the ceremony on Monday.
“This is a sign for our daughter that change is not impossible,” said Ellis.
Lines for marriage licenses in the Registers of Deeds Office started at 8 am, as the office was filled with nervous laughter and words of congratulation from the government office staff. Local clergy members and Wake Forest Divinity School students watched, offering to perform ceremonies to the newly licensed couples.
Keith Hicks, 49, and Wayne Berrier, 54, were the first couple to be issued a marriage license on Monday. The couple of 25 years will be one of 5 couples to be married on Saturday on the main stage of Pride Winston-Salem’s 4th Annual Pride Festival. Both are Pride Winston-Salem board members, with Hicks serving as the President and Berrier as the at-large board member.
“I never thought this would ever happen in our lifetime in North Carolina,” said Berrier. “I thought surely we would be the last state to allow it.”