A Historic Ruling Makes Gay Marriage Legal in Arizona, but LGBT Leaders Say Much More Must Be Done Here

At 10:36 a.m. on Friday, October 17, Michael Jeanes tweeted his followers: "Welcome All to the Clerk's Office. Your marriage license awaits, and we are ready to serve you!"

The most important word in the Maricopa County Superior Court clerk's message was "All." Soon security officers held open the doors to the clerk's Customer Service Center downtown, and a line of same-sex couples began to enter.

The first, Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey, have been together for more than five decades. But it wasn't until that day that the state of Arizona allowed them to obtain a marriage license.

Next were Kevin Patterson and David Larance, who obtained Maricopa County's second same-sex marriage license. Larance and Patterson have been together for eight years and are raising two daughters, so they didn't feel the need to plan a large wedding.

Instead, they married in the courtyard outside the clerk's office, becoming the first gay couple to legally marry in Maricopa County, and perhaps in the state.

John Dorhauer, a United Church of Christ leader overseeing Arizona, New Mexico, and El Paso County in Texas, performed their ceremony. He was riding his bike Friday morning when he got the call that same-sex marriage was legal. He sped home, took a shower, and headed to the County Clerk's Office. Dorhauer had performed same-sex unions before, but never a legal marriage.

In the rush to the clerk's office, Patterson and Larance only remembered to bring one ring, so Dorhauer let the couple borrow his own ring for the ceremony.

After the wedding, the men and their children posed for pictures, huge smiles on their faces.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ashley Cusick
Contact: Ashley Cusick