Same-sex couples, gay marriage supporters, and protesters gather at Linn Park

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Same-sex couples arrived at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Monday to be issued marriage licenses for the first time in the state’s history. The couples along with family and supporters gathered at Linn Park to join in the first legal marriage ceremonies provided to same-sex couples in the state. Alabama became the 37th state to allow same-sex marriage.

Dee and Laura became the first same-sex couple to legally wed. The two women said they had no plans of being the first to do so. “It was accidental, but I think it’s great. We got to play a role in making history today,” Dee said.

Laura and Dee have been together for seven years and said that the marriage was not only a long coming for them, but for the community as a whole. They hope that others will follow their lead and take the right now that it has been given to them.

Laura also had advice for couples in states that have yet to allow same-sex marriage. “Don’t lose faith, it will happen for those states that have not yet been able to have this equality. Keep fighting for it, it’s yours to have,” she said.

There was both support and protest outside the courthouse doors.  Supporters created a walkway for each couple to pass through while they received cheers and hugs from the crowd.  Some people greeted the couples with flowers, wedding cake flavored cupcakes, and even free professional photographs.

“That’s what you remember and that’s what you’ll share. You were a part of a little bit of history right here in the Magic City,” said professional photographer Mitchell Sargent.

While hundreds gathered in support of gay and lesbian couples, a handful of protesters made sure their feelings were heard loud and clear. The protestors say they represent thousands of Alabamians against gay marriage. Many say they were disappointed more religious leaders did not come out to protest and say they are honoring God by not being afraid to speak out for their beliefs.

“I’m prepared to go to jail standing up for what God told me to preach,” said Rev. Herman Henderson. “This is what God called me to do was to stand up for him. That’s exactly what I’m doing today,” one protestor said who would not give her name. “God says gay marriage is an abomination,” Marry Barabino.

Some couples says they were not phased by the protestors. Rep. Patricia Todd is openly gay and a Christian. She says the religious arguments are at times upsetting.

“I believe in God and I live my faith every day. But I live my faith by not condemning other people,” said. Todd.

Presbyterian minister Shannon Webster supports the right of same-sex couples to marry. He said that both he and the protestors can agree on one thing. “What we agree on is that our love for Jesus Chris is real, and that is was really matters.”

While this is a day to celebrate for same-sex couples, many say that this is only the beginning of a long civil rights battle.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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