Couples Celebrate Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage in Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Couples Celebrate Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage in Delaware

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GEORGETOWN/DOVER, Del. (WBOC)- For the first time in Delaware state history, same-sex couples walked into marriage bureaus in all three counties and walked out with official marriage certificates.

The Sussex County Marriage Bureau opened at 7 a.m. Monday to a line of about a dozen couples, with more arriving as the day progressed.

With the Sussex County office opening earlier than normal Monday, Mary Hudson and Lynn Ekelund of Milton became the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage certificate in Delaware history.

"It's thrilling," said Hudson, who was joined with Ekelund in civil union last year. "We want to continue our lives together and love together."

In Rehoboth Beach, Chris Beagle and Eric Englehart were wed in front of nearly a hundred friends and family members at Camp Rehoboth, the town's gay and lesbian community center.

Beagle and Englehart are determined to continue advocating for gay rights across the country, especially in Pennsylvania, their home state, where same-sex marriage is not yet legal.

"There's still work to be done in Pennsylvania," said Englehart. "Anything there we can do to help, we will."

Same-sex couples not joined in civil union have to wait until Tuesday to get married in Delaware, due to the state's 24-hour waiting period to receive a marriage certificate.

In Kent County there were only a few same-sex couples out Monday morning to get married.

It was at Legislative Hall just about two months ago Delaware legalized same-sex marriage. And it was just a mile down Martin Luther King Blvd. at the Levy Court building that couples in this county were able to first make use of that this morning.

It was a gloomy morning outside Levy Court. But Jill Ipnar, from Smyrna, was all smiles inside with her now-wife, Deb Bialecky.

"We just had our civil union converted to a marriage, a legal marriage in the state of Delaware," Ipnar said.

"I got married," Bialecky said. "It's great."

They were the first same-sex marriage in Kent County. Ipnar was set on being number one.

"I wanted to make sure I was here first," she said.

"When she said she wanted to be here at five I shook my head a little bit," Bialecky said. "She said, 'I'll be there at 5:00 AM. You don't have to be there until 7:30.' I said that was OK."

Ipnar actually ended up getting there at 6:30.

The couple only got a civil union eight months ago and didn't think they'd be back here so quickly.

"[I] did not expect that at all. It's a wonderful surprise," Ipnar said.

"I expected it to take a lot longer," said Bialecky. "The groups that pushed this forward really did tremendous work to get it done in the time frame that they did."

The women had less fanfare for this than for their civil union.

"Everything is the same between us," said Bialecky. "It's just a piece of paper."

Ipnar says the Supreme Court's recent decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act made Monday's events all the more meaningful and important.

The Kent County Clerk of the Peace's office says there were ten same-sex couples that came into the office Monday. Sussex County officials say they saw 50 couples.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested around the state the start of same-sex marriage. Protestors began the day in New Castle County and were in Kent County by mid-morning.

In Dover around ten of them were met by about 50 counter protestors there to support Monday's change.

"This is the day you begin to pass out same sex marriage licenses," said Shirley Phelps-Roper, with the church. "This day's going down in eternity. You guys have joined the ranks of the shameful."

"Civil rights," said Dianne Beck, who was a part of the counter protest. "Everybody has civil rights, and if we are going to worry about who you love, that's ridiculous."

Protestor spent time outside the air force base - in addition to outside Levy Court where marriage conversions people were getting same-sex marriages.

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