- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - Courts in Georgia began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling gave same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. Here are some scenes from the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta, which began issuing the licenses shortly after the high court decision came down:

Petrina Bloodworth and Emma Foulkes were the first same-sex couple to get their marriage license at the Fulton County courthouse in downtown Atlanta Friday and were immediately married by a judge. Both women wore trim suits and smiled broadly as they waited for their marriage certificate to be prepared.

“I’m just ecstatic right now. I can’t believe it’s finally happened,” Bloodworth said.

“We’ve been together 10 years,” Foulkes said. “This just means our love is legitimate in the eyes of our country.”

Bloodworth, 41, and Foulkes, 46, said they’ve been talking about getting married for about three years and nearly decided last year to tie the knot in a state where same-sex marriage was already legal. But once they saw the Supreme Court was going to take up the issue they decided to wait.

After they were married, they celebrated with cake at the Fulton County government center, across the street from the courthouse, along with their 22-year-old son, Raimius Foulkes. He said it felt surreal to have the family unit he’s known for the last decade finally be recognized by the law.

“My mom met Trina when I was in sixth grade,” he said. “Since then, she’s been a second mother to me. I’d do anything for them.”

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Monet Brewerton, 30, and Sarah Palmer, 27, were the second same-sex couple to get their marriage license at the Fulton County courthouse Friday in Atlanta, and they’re planning an October wedding in Decatur, just outside Atlanta, where they live.

The two got engaged last July and moved from Chicago to Decatur in August, just two months after same-sex marriage was made legal in Illinois.

“It was difficult for me to move down to Atlanta and to know that I wouldn’t have those rights here,” Brewerton said.

They considered going to another state to get married legally, but it was important to them to marry where they live.

Friday started out normally: waking up, feeding their dog and two cats and getting ready for work. Brewerton said she’d forgotten that the Supreme Court decision might come down Friday until they were in the car on the way to work.

A public defender, she said she had trouble focusing once she got to the office.

“I felt like I had swallowed battery acid I was so nervous,” Brewerton said. “And then when the decision came, I just closed my door and cried.”

Then she and Palmer, also a lawyer, met to get their license. Standing on the courthouse steps with that piece of paper in hand, they both teared up as they talked about the day’s significance.

“We’re just happy to get to be part of this moment in history, Palmer said.

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Charles Bjorkland and Sted Mays hugged and jumped up and down after getting their marriage license Friday morning at the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta. They planned to marry later in the day with Mays’ cousin, 11th U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Frank Hull, officiating, Mays said.

“We’ve been fighting for this for more than 30 years!” Mays yelled as he waved the marriage certificate in the probate court clerk’s office.

The pair, who said they’ve been together 34 years, previously lived in New York and were activists there. They moved to Georgia several years ago to care for an ailing relative. They thought of returning to New York to marry once same-sex marriage became legal there, but decided to wait until they could marry where they live.

“It’s just so exciting,” Mays said. “I just can’t describe what it’s like.”

But even amid his joy, he turned serious as he thought of a friend who never got the chance to feel what he was feeling because one partner died before same-sex marriage was legal everywhere.

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Minister Danielle Goeckel stood on the steps of the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta Friday morning holding a sign reading: “Yes I will gladly marry you!”

The fee for her services? Two hugs.

A minister of a church in nearby Alpharetta she said she wanted to be there for any couples who needed an officiant.

“I’m just here to offer my services,” she said. “Let love win.”

Kimberly Boncella, a non-denominational minister, said she left her job as a human resources director for a dental practice as soon as she heard the ruling. She stood beside Goeckel, also offering to perform weddings.

“I wanted to make sure anyone who wanted to get married on this momentous occasion could do it,” she said.

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