- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Gay couples took out marriage licenses and exchanged wedding vows and kisses Friday in Arizona after the state’s conservative attorney general said he wouldn’t challenge a federal court decision that cleared the way for same-sex unions in the state. A look at how some reacted to the decision.

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Carmen Diaz and Christina Koulouris took a long lunch from their jobs at Citigroup to apply for a marriage license that was nearly nine years in the making. The Tucson couple waited about 20 minutes at the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County on Friday before they were issued a license. Although the women have been domestic partners since 2011, they said getting married was a historic moment.

“People are going to hate, and they can hate all they want, but I’m the one who’s happy,” Koulouris, 31, said. Diaz, who is 27 years old, said the next step was a wedding and a baby.

“It’s gonna be a big fat Mexican-Greek wedding,” Koulouris said.

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Kristin Gunckel and Marcy Wood have been together for 22 years. Both are faculty members at the University of Arizona but were working from home when they watched state Attorney General Tom Horne deliver his remarks paving the way for same-sex marriage. They rushed over to the downtown Tucson courthouse, constantly smiling as they applied and received their marriage license.

“It just seems like all the work was worth it,” Gunckel said.

The couple said they considered marrying in other states where same-sex unions have been legal for years, but that it was important to them to wait until their own state recognized them.

“Mostly there’s a just a lot of celebration. How fortunate are we that things have changed so much?”

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As soon as Abigail Ortiz heard Horne say that same-sex couples could get married immediately in Arizona, she called her partner, and they headed to the Coconino County courthouse to get a license. Erika Alvarez proposed to Ortiz in March with her grandmother’s wedding ring, and Ortiz said yes about a month later.

“I don’t see my life without her,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez has two children that Ortiz is planning to adopt. They said they believe Alvarez’s custody case will be stronger now.

“The big seller for us is if the kids get sick, I can be there in the room,” Ortiz said. “I won’t get kicked own. They’re already saying, ‘can I change my name to your last name?’ I want to be able to say yes.”

The two walked out of the courthouse, arm in arm, embracing each other and looking forward to their marriage ceremony Friday evening.

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Flagstaff lawyer Ryan Stevens and his partner of more than six years, Chris Gomez, were one of the first three couples to get licenses Friday at the Coconino County courthouse. Stevens had stood before the clerk’s window before with two women he was representing in a case challenging Arizona’s gay marriage ban, only this time he wasn’t rejected.

The couple hasn’t set a wedding date but might plan to get married spontaneously Friday night, Stevens said.

“It was always going to be in Arizona,” Gomez said. “We decided we wouldn’t go through the process until it was legal in Arizona.”

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Associated Press writers Astrid Galvan in Tucson and Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff contributed to this report.


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