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First gay couple receives marriage license in Washoe


After a confusing series of legal twists and turns this week that left gay couples across Nevada in limbo, Reno residents Karen Goody and Karen Vibe received their same-sex marriage license just after 5 o'clock Thursday. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss was there at the Washoe County Clerk's Office as the couple celebrated, embraced, and started planning for their upcoming nuptials.

Karen and Karen were the very first gay couple in Washoe County to receive their license yesterday, right after a district judge in Las Vegas struck down the 2002 state constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in Nevada. The two have been together almost a decade, and they were one of the eight couples that brought a lawsuit challenging the ban.

On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on that case, finding that same-sex wedding bans in both Nevada and Idaho violate the rights of gay couples.

Supporters of Nevada's ban have called the ruling a tragedy and say it goes against the will of the voters who passed the ban 12 years ago. The Coalition for the Protection of Marriage briefly fought for keeping the ban in place, causing much confusion this week, but the group soon withdrew its appeals.

Karen Goody says despite all of the delays and moments of uncertainty, they remained positive through it all.

"Although it may have been a roller coaster for a lot of people," Goody explains, "it really wasn't for us. We knew this was going to happen; it was just a matter of time that it all got worked out. It's such a big deal, we're changing the law in the state of Nevada."

Goody works in medical sales and her fiance Karen Vibe is a financial advisor, along with a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno. Two-and-a-half years ago, they stopped by the county clerk's office to apply for a marriage license and Vibe says they were quickly turned away.

"That just angered me to no end," Vibe says. "It was just unbelievable that that kind of discrimination was happening, and we weren't even allowed in the building."

Vibe grew up in a Christian fundamentalist home and was taught that homosexuality is wrong. She says that, sadly, she hasn't spoken to her parents in five years because of their disapproval.


Both Vibe and Goody acknowledge that every person is entitled to their own opinion, but Goody asks that anyone who is against same-sex marriage take the time to get know someone who is gay:

"You know, a neighbor, their doctor, their lawyer, the person who changes their tires. There are a lot of people out there that are worth getting to know, and you know--I'm sorry I'm getting a little emotional--but it's important, I think. And then let them decide."

The two will be married next month, at a sunset ceremony.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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