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Michigan couple marry outside courthouse

Michigan couple marry outside courthouse

Minutes after a clerk refused them a marriage license, a lesbian couple recited their vows and were wed by a minister just outside the Oakland County courthouse in Michigan. Heidi Barnette, 30, and Angela Kurtz, 24, of Clarkston also tried to get a marriage license in February. "You didn't think it was going to be different, did you?" Barnette asked onlookers at Thursday's ceremony. The ceremony, performed by the Reverend Deb Dysert of Clarkston's Divine Peace Metropolitan Community Church, was held to highlight the International Day of Clergy Support for Same-Sex Marriage. The predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Churches called the day to protest laws in Michigan and other states that prohibit clergy from solemnizing weddings when couples don't have a civil marriage license, local papers reported. Two Unitarian Universalist ministers were charged last month in New York for solemnizing gay marriages without marriage licenses. A small crowd stood quietly during the 10-minute ceremony. Renee Ludwig, 9, and Tyler Woolsey, 3, Kurtz's cousins, and the couple's 21-month-old son, Paul, represented the only family present. Barnette carried Paul, whose birth was the result of the couple's using a sperm donor. "You make this commitment without benefit of a marriage license or the resulting sanction of the state and its laws and statutes," Dysert said during the ceremony. "You will have only the love of God and the support of the lovers of justice and equality to support you. Lean on that support today, as you again promise your lives to one another." Oakland County commissioner Tom McMillin, chairman of Oakland Citizens to Protect Marriage, said the ceremony "further shows how important it is to get the marriage protection amendment added to the state ballot." Kurtz said she was disappointed she and Barnette did not get a license but said God recognizes their marriage. "God is here in our relationship," Kurtz said. "If he wasn't, we wouldn't be here." The Reverend Jill Zundel, associate pastor of Clarkston United Methodist Church, which does not allow clergy to perform same-sex blessings, attended the ceremony. "They are people committing to each other, and we should celebrate that in the church," said Zundel, whose denomination is meeting in Pittsburgh and will debate issues relating to homosexuality.

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