Same-Sex Marriages Begin In Montana

Same-Sex Marriages Begin In Montana
Jill Houk, left, and Randi “Doc” Paul were the first same-sex couple married Thursday morning in Yellowstone County

Same-sex marriages began in full today in Big Sky country after U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled Wednesday that Montana’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Randi “Doc” Paul and Jill Houk, of Billings, were the first same-sex couple to be married in Yellowstone County.

“It’s nice not to have to say ‘my girlfriend,’” when talking about 28-year-old Paul, Houk said. “Now I can say ‘my wife.’’

Even though the ruling came late in the day on Wednesday, a few couples were able to say “I do” yesterday:

Among the first Montana couples to get their licenses Wednesday were Amy Wagner, 56, and Karen Langebeck, 48, who have been together for 22 years.

After hearing about the ruling, they got on the road to get their license.

“Being able to get married and introduce Karen as my wife — that’s a big deal. Now I have a way to describe this relationship that everybody understands,” Wagner said.

In Montana’s most populous county, Yellowstone, the clerk of the District Court said her office was ready to issue licenses.

“For my office, nothing will be different than any other day,” Kristie Lee Boelter said.

Also Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union will hold celebrations at county courthouses in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena and Missoula. The group will provide officiants for couples who wish to marry immediately, ACLU spokeswoman Amy Cannata said.

In spite of all the shiny happy people, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox still asserts he plans on appealing the ruling until options run out.