After waiting years — and then one more weekend — same-sex couples in Alaska were finally granted the freedom to marry Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess struck down the state constitution's ban on same-sex marriage October 12, but his ruling was placed on hold while Republican leadership appealed that decision.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to extend a brief stay granted by a lower court, clearing the way for same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses in the Frontier State. But because the Supreme Court's actions fell on Alaska Day, state offices were closed until Monday. Although the state is still pursuing its appeal, same-sex couples are now able to marry in Alaska (and 31 other U.S. states, in addition to the District of Columbia).
So as soon as the offices of the marriage license–issuing Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics opened for regular business hours Monday, Stephanie Pearson and Courtney Lamb were first in line to apply for a marriage license in Anchorage. The pair were one of the five same-sex couples who filed the lawsuit that ultimately brought down Alaska's first-in-the-nation constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 1998.
Although the state requires a three-day waiting period between a couple's application for and when they receive an actual marriage license, Pearson and Lamb were understandably tired of waiting — so they exchanged vows outside the Anchorage courthouse immediately after they obtained their license, according to Alaska's KTVA.
"Quite the emotional roller coaster it’s been," Lamb told the local news outlet with a broad smile. "But very worth it in the end. Today is a great day." Watch the couple's emotional ceremony, performed amid friends, family, and falling snowflakes, here.