- Associated Press - Sunday, November 22, 2015

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - The initial rush for gay couples to marry in Montana has declined after 436 couples married during the first year since the state’s marriage ban ended, but couples say they’re happy with the changes that have made their lives easier.

The rush began after U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled Montana’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman violated the U.S. Constitution.

Noelle and Devon Lee of Great Falls, who were among those who got married, said they previously needed permission to take a child to the doctor, and those rules have changed.

The Lees were already unofficially married when Montana’s ban on same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional.

“We’d had a not-legal ceremony a few years before that, but once we found out the ban was down, we were pretty anxious to get it legal,” Noelle said.

After more than five years together, the couple had a friend get ordained for a small ceremony in Great Falls to make their union official, the Great Falls Tribune reported (https://tinyurl.com/qgseq65).

State Attorney General Tim Fox originally said he would appeal the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but he stopped his appeal pending legal challenges.

Fox signed a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that states should be able to decide the issue for themselves as deciding the gay marriage issue was “a most elementary form of self-government.”

In 2014, the first same-sex couples married in Montana. In Great Falls, Caylie Thompson and Jamie Gumenberg wed on the courthouse steps.

Kileen Marshall, the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana’s development director, performed the first nine same-sex marriages in Missoula County. She called it a proud moment she hopes will be included in her obituary.


Information from: Great Falls Tribune, https://www.greatfallstribune.com

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