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Strange Fruit: Sights and Sounds from Marriage Equality Decision Day

Friday was a historic day for the U.S., and we spent it experiencing and documenting some of the sights and sounds of all the Decision Day activities here in Louisville!

On this week's show, we share those sounds with you.

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We started out at a press conference, where we heard first from attorneys Dan Canon and Laura Landenwich. Then plaintiff Luke Meade-Barlowe talked about how he met his husband, Jim, almost 48 years ago, and they got married in Iowa in 2009.

Meade-Barlowe struggled through tears as he reflected on how much things have changed. "We had never held hands in public. It was just not something that was done, You didn't even think about gay people being married, let alone adopting children," he said. "Some people are not as smart as we are." He answered some questions from the press, then concluded by saying, "Watch this!" and kissing his husband at the podium, amid applause.

Plaintiff Tim Love told the gathered crowd that he and his partner, Larry Ysunza, plan to get married  in October. "Today we're gonna see the end to a lot of very long engagements in the state of Kentucky," he predicted. "I can't tell you how happy we are. We never thought we'd see this day in our lifetime. 35 years is a long time to wait to have your relationship recognized."

We also heard from friends to the show Michael Aldridge from the ACLU of Kentucky, and Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman. "As a gay man this affects me personally outside of my job," Aldridge said. "I am overwhelmed with joy. I just want to go find my husband and hold him tight."

As the press conference was wrapping up, word came through that Gov. Steve Beshear had ordered all county clerks in the commonwealth to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as they had the proper forms. Ysunza immediately dropped to one knee and proposed. We followed the throng of couples, lawyers, and media, to the Jefferson County Clerk's office.

There was some confusion at first, while deputy clerks there waited for new marriage license templates that would not say "bride" and "groom." We waited in the hallway as more couples began showing up to get their licenses. Friends, family members, and supporters came in to celebrate. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer came in carrying bottles of chilled champagne for the engaged couples.

Eventually, new forms were sent over from the Kentucky Department of Libraries, and Love and Ysunza became the first same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license in Jefferson County.

Benjamin Moore and Tadd Roberts caused an audible reaction among the crowd when they walked in wearing tuxedos, followed by a minister in a long black robe. The couple, who have been together for more than a decade, filled out their paperwork, and the minister immediately began officiating a wedding ceremony in the middle of the county clerk's office.

WFPL's Jacob Ryan was there with us, and produced an audio postcard of what's believed to be the first legally binding same-sex marriage in the state of Kentucky (we can't promise that some of the sniffles you'll hear in the background weren't ours).

We close the show this week with the last passage of the Supreme Court's opinion, which we predict will find its way into some wedding ceremonies before long:

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered."

It was an unforgettable day in Louisville, and #TeamStrangeFruit is so happy to be able to bring you an archive of it. We hope you feel like you were right there with us, witnessing history!

Click here to support Strange Fruit!

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.