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Same-sex couple issued marriage license application

A same-sex couple in Screven County has been issued a marriage license application according to the county’s probate court office. The couple who potentially could be the first in the county’s history to take advantage of the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriages had not returned the form back to the probate court as of the Sylvania Telephone press time. Only once the completed paperwork is filed at the courthouse would the names of the two be public record. Georgia became one of the states that now have to recognize and perform same-sex marriages after a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision that the U.S. constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. In a memorandum to state agencies and department heads, Georgia Attorney General Samuel Olens said Georgia will move forward with recognizing same-sex marriages. “This mandate requires Georgia to recognize same sex marriage in the same way it recognizes marriage between a man and a woman. Georgia’s local governments are now constitutionally required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, to issue those licenses in the same way and via the same procedures employed for all other applicants, and to recognize same-sex marriages on an equal footing with all other marriages.” Probate Court Judge Debbie Brown said her office had the amended version of the marriage license with “Applicant 1” and “Applicant 2,” rather than “Bride” and “Groom” the day after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Brown said the other information required on the marriage form remains the same. Brown said the probate court office keeps records of when a marriage license form is given out and when the couple has scheduled to hold the ceremony. She said traditionally the completed application is returned after the ceremony. While it is legal for same-sex couples to marry in Georgia, it may be difficult for couples to initially locate an individual to officiate the ceremony. Brown said the probate office halted it conducting of marriage ceremonies approximately two months ago before the Supreme Court ruling. She said scheduling and officiating the ceremonies had become time-consuming. Also the probate court office is not conducive for large gatherings who may come to witness the union of the couple. Jimmy Griner, the chief magistrate judge, said he stopped performing wedding ceremonies months ago. State court judge Grady Reddick has not conducted a marriage ceremony, according to his wife Janis Reddick, the county clerk of the courts. Additionally, multiple local ministers have announced to their congregation members their unwillingness to perform a same-sex marriage. They cited the union goes against their religious beliefs.