Henry Probate court ready for same-sex couples

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

For many in Georgia, it was not a question of if same-sex marriage would become legal, but when.

That includes the state’s probate judges, whose courts are tasked with issuing marriage licenses.

Hampton residents Julie Loudermilk, at left, and De Lauderdale were issued the first same-sex marriage license in Henry County on Monday. Lauderdale and Loudermilk who have been a couple for eight years are planning a September wedding at their home. They have had their vows written for years for a day they were uncertain they would ever see. “I thought we would be dead and gone before this day,” said Lauderdale. Photo by Mickie Jackson

Last Friday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states can no longer ban same-sex marriages. That announcement came mid-morning, and within an hour the Henry County Probate Court rolled out updated forms for marriage license applicants that reflect the legal change.

Instead of blank lines identified by “Bride” and “Groom,” the documents now read “Applicant 1” and “Applicant 2.”

Henry County Probate Judge Kelley Powell said that she and her peers had been anticipating the change for a few months and took steps to be prepared the moment it was necessary. That meant reaching out to her office’s relevant software vendor so that the court’s computerized record-keeping system would stay up to date.

A total of 1,340 marriage licenses were issued in Henry County in 2014. Powell said that number has been fairly steady for the past several years, while pointing out that a Georgia resident does not have to apply for a marriage license in the county where he or she lives.

While there have been inquiries even before Friday’s ruling, there was not a rush in McDonough the first day.

“We’ve gotten some calls, but no one has come in yet,” Powell said Friday afternoon.

“But we’re ready.”