- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Attorneys for same-sex couples on Friday asked a federal appeals court to remove a procedural block so gay marriages can begin in Mississippi.

The legal move came during a day filled with both joy and frustration for couples who wanted to say their vows after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is legal in all 50 states.

“Good things come to those who wait,” said Tiffany Brosh, 26, who applied for a marriage license in Jackson with her fiancee Laurin Locke, 24. “What’s a little bit longer?”

It was not immediately clear when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would consider removing the procedural hold. The request came from attorneys for two lesbian couples who sued the state last year to overturn its longtime ban on same-sex marriage.

One of the couples in that lawsuit, Becky Bickett and Andrea Sanders, were driving to a family reunion in Florida when they heard about the Supreme Court ruling.

“I was trying not to cry when I was driving,” Bickett said.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has long said that marriage should be only between a man and a woman. He said the Supreme Court ruling takes away states’ right to regulate marriage.

“Today, a federal court has usurped that right to self-governance and has mandated that states must comply with federal marriage standards - standards that are out of step with the wishes of many in the United States and that are certainly out of step with the majority of Mississippians,” Bryant said.

Couples showed up at circuit clerk’s offices in several counties soon after the ruling, and some applied for a marriage license. There was confusion among couples after state Attorney General Jim Hood said marriages could not start immediately.

A federal judge last year overturned Mississippi’s ban on gay marriage but put his own ruling on hold while the state appealed. Hood said the 5th Circuit must lift that hold before clerks can issue marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples.

“The Office of the Attorney General is certainly not standing in the way of the Supreme Court’s decision,” said Hood, a Democrat whose office had defended the ban. “We simply want to inform our citizens of the procedure that takes effect after this ruling. The Supreme Court decision is the law of the land, and we do not dispute that.”

Three lesbian couples obtained licenses and married Friday in Hattiesburg amid confusion over when weddings can legally begin.

Forrest County Circuit Clerk Lou-Ann Adams said when the couples arrived, she didn’t have the attorney general’s message that no licenses should be issued.

“By the time we got the opinion, we were starting the second license,” Adams told The Associated Press. “I didn’t know whether it would be valid, so I suggested they talk with their minister who was outside. They came back in and said they wanted the license and we gave it to them.”

Adams said she advised the first couple that their license might not be valid, but they were fine with it.

“I am not issuing any more, based on the attorney general’s opinion,” Adams said.

First to receive a license in Forrest County were Amber Hamilton and Annice Smith of Laurel, who have been together for six years.

In the capital city of Jackson, Knol Aust, 39, and Duane Smith, 40, applied for a license. Aust said he thought it was possible clerks might not immediately issue licenses, “but it did sting a little.”

Aust and Smith, a couple for 17 years, hoped to marry Friday, with a more elaborate celebration later.

“We have always felt we had a marriage,” Aust said.

The federal lawsuit filed last year by two couples and a gay-rights group, Campaign for Southern Equality, challenged the state’s 1997 law and 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves overturned the ban, saying same-sex couples deserve equal protection under the law.

The appeals court heard arguments in the Mississippi case but did not rule before Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

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Associated Press photographer Rogelio V. Solis contributed to this report.

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