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Same-sex couples rush to altar ahead of GOP stop-gap measures

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Rex C. Curry/AP

(Read caption) Rev. Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, (r.), senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, brings Shannon Bailey, left, and Marlon Cortez to the podium to sign their marriage documents during service on Sunday. They were married the day of the Supreme Court decision granting same-sex marriage. The Cathedral of Hope was formed years ago as a spiritual refuge for gays.

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It was a weekend for weddings, all right.

Immediately after the Supreme Court issued its historic ruling on same-sex marriage Friday, couples around the country hurried to courthouses to tie the knot in a series of much-anticipated celebrations. 

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While the rush to wed implies a sobering truth – that the public expected the resistance now being shown by some state governments and conservatives – the palpable joy, spreading from couples who had waited years to marry, was undeniable. This was especially true in states in the South and Midwest, where same-sex marriage was illegal until the high court’s June 26 decision.

Topping the list of long-awaited unions was that of Jack Evans and George Harris, the first gay couple to marry in Dallas, according to Fox 4 News. Mr. Evans and Mr. Harris, both in their 80s, have been together for nearly 55 years.

Many of their friends had left the state – or the country – in order to wed, but the two decided to wait it out.

“[W]e being Texans we wanted to hold out for Texas,” Harris told Fox 4. “I said, well, I hope we live long enough.”

“Ten years ago, this was not even imaginable,” Evans told Fox 4. “Had little hope it would ever come to Texas, still shocked that Texas is allowing it today.”

Jessica Dent and Carolee Taylor, a couple of 13 years from Montgomery, Ala., echoed the sentiment.

“Never thought it would happen in our lifetime,” Ms. Taylor told the Associated Press.

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In Cincinnati, Ohio, Mayor John Cranley (D) officiated five marriages in front of a large crowd at Fountain Square in the city’s central district.

“Our love is equal,” Cincinnati native Jim Obergefell, the man whose name is on the ruling, told reporters outside the court Friday. He and his dying partner, John Arthur, got married in 2013 aboard a medical plane on a tarmac in Maryland, the Associated Press reported. Before Mr. Arthur’s death three months later, the couple filed a suit to get Ohio to recognize their marriage on Arthur’s death certificate.

“This is for you, John,” Mr. Obergefell said.

In the wake of the decision, pride marches and weddings continued throughout the weekend. 

Not everyone celebrated the ruling, however. 

To many conservatives, Friday’s ruling represented an infringement on the rights of individual states to establish their own laws, a key point in Justice John Roberts dissenting opinion.

“Many states have already voted to keep the definition of marriage to one man and one woman, and the court’s decision is a gross infringement on American democracy," Rep. Doug Collins (R) of Georgia said in a statement following the decision. “Because this decision robbed the American people of their freedom of choice, I strongly support a constitutional amendment defining a marriage between one man and one woman.”

Some conservative-led states have vowed to fight the ruling.

In Mississippi, three same-sex weddings occurred before Attorney General Jim Hood declared on Friday that the decision would not be observed in the state, the Los Angeles Times reported – a statement that as of Monday still has Mississippi couples in limbo.

Louisiana, meanwhile, issued its first marriage license to a same-sex couple June 29: On the advice of his attorney, Jefferson Parish county clerk Jon Gegenheimer began providing licenses starting 10 a.m., Monday, reported.

In Texas, where more than 150 marriage licenses were issued on Friday, attorney general Ken Paxton said Sunday that the state would not have to continue performing weddings or issuing licenses for what he called “a lawless ruling,” The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Marriage equality advocates acknowledge that no single decision has the power to totally overcome centuries of entrenched opinions.

“The Supreme Court's decision won’t end discrimination against gay people,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mary Schmich wrote for the Chicago Tribune. “It won’t end the ugly rhetoric. It won’t confer on gay people any greater chance at a happy marriage than any other person has.”

Still, she noted, it is a sign of overwhelming change in American society.

“It’s a victory not only for gay people but for all of us who understand that we are only as free as the people around us, only free when the people we love are free,” Ms. Schmich wrote. “If you haven't already, take a moment now and salute your gay friends who have finally been granted this freedom and respect.”

“If you think you don't have gay friends,” she added, “think again.”