- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015
Couples, officials, foes readying for US gay marriage ruling

CINCINNATI (AP) - With a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage expected any day now, gay couples in states with bans are making wedding plans, courthouse officials are getting ready for different scenarios and steadfast foes are working on their strategies to keep up the opposition.

Marriage license bureaus are bracing for a rush of applicants if the court overturns bans. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of planning sessions by groups that intend to explore religious objection responses to protect “traditional marriage” limited to heterosexuals.

Gay couples, such as Ethan Fletcher and Andrew Hickam of Cincinnati, are gearing up for a quick run to the courthouse in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee - the states involved in the cases that were argued in April before the justices. They’re among 14 states that ban same-sex marriage, and if the high court rules in favor of gay marriage, it would apply nationally.

Fletcher, 31, a University of Cincinnati senior academic adviser, and Hickam, 30, a GE Aviation engineer, have arranged to take off work to get their license if the decision allows immediate same-sex marriages and will then plan a formal wedding. They became engaged nearly two years ago but decided against getting married in another state as long as there was the possibility they could do it at home.

“Well, we live here and we pay taxes here and our families live here,” said Fletcher, adding that they want his grandmother and Hickam’s mother to be able to attend. “We didn’t feel that it was reasonable for us to have to travel out of state for the freedom to marry.”

In Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is located, the marriage license bureau said other courthouse staffers have been cross-trained and forms are available online to help speed the process. Court officials in Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, say they’re prepared to process triple the usual number of applications.


Tenn officials waiting for gay marriage ruling before action

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - In Tennessee, state and local officials say they are taking a wait-and-see approach to the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn the state’s ban on gay marriage.

Asked recently about any preparation, Gov. Bill Haslam said “discussions have been happening” at the state Attorney General’s office and the various departments. But he said until the ruling comes down, “it’s hard to say what the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ are.”

County clerks’ offices are where residents go for marriage certificates, but it is not clear how soon they will begin issuing certificates to gay couples if the ban is overturned.

Wayne Mashburn, president of the Tennessee County Clerks Association, said the clerks will take their direction from the County Officials Association of Tennessee. The director of that association, Jay West, would say only that they are “first waiting to see what the Supreme Court decision is.”

The marriage certificates themselves, with their “bride” and “groom” designations are issued by the state Health Department. Spokesman Woody McMillin said the department’s attorney is reaching out to the Social Security Administration to ask about possible changes to the form. New forms will be printed if they are needed, but they are not being prepared in advance.

Driver’s license centers will also be affected if the ban is overturned. Currently, gay couples married in other states cannot get their names changed on their licenses by showing marriage certificates because Tennessee does not recognize those marriages.


Lead plaintiff ready to help if marriage ruling goes his way

CINCINNATI (AP) - If the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, the lead plaintiff in the historic case says he’ll be able to help out with the expected surge of couples wanting to wed.

Jim Obergefell (OH’-burk-uh-fel) of Cincinnati says he has gotten ordained online in preparation. He says he wanted to be able to offer to perform marriages for others as “a nod” to his own proposal to his partner immediately after the high court’s 2013 ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

He and his dying partner, John Arthur, were unable to wed in their home state because of Ohio’s 2004 ban, so Arthur’s aunt got ordained and officiated their wedding in a medically equipped plane on a Maryland tarmac.

Arthur died three months later, and shortly after, Obergefell began the legal challenge titled James Obergefell, et al, v. Richard Hodges, et al, that is before the high court. (Hodges is the director of the Ohio Department of Health.)

Obergefell, a real estate salesman, has been in Washington awaiting the decision. If the court rules for same-sex marriage, he said recently by email, “I imagine I’ll be out celebrating.”


TBI graduates first class from Criminal Justice Academy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation recently graduated its first class of Criminal Justice Academy students.

More than 100 college students from across the state applied for the academy, and 21 students representing 20 different colleges in Tennessee attended the week-long training.

According to the TBI, the academy was developed for college juniors and seniors who are interested in a career in criminal justice or forensic science. The course was held at the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Students spent part of the time in classes learning about ethics, investigative skills and interrogation.

TBI special agents also instructed them on how to use crime scene equipment and tactics used in investigating crime scenes.

For more information about the academy, visit: https://www.tbi.tn.gov/training_division/training.shtmlhttps://www.tbi.tn.gov/training_division/training.shtml .



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