First same-sex couple exchanges vows in Harrison Co. - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

First same-sex couple exchanges vows in Harrison Co.

Bobbi Gray and Celeste Swaim were smiling ear to ear when the Rev. Montgomery Robertson pronounced them legally married in the State of Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX) Bobbi Gray and Celeste Swaim were smiling ear to ear when the Rev. Montgomery Robertson pronounced them legally married in the State of Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX)
Bobbi Gray (left) and Celeste Swaim (right) (Photo source: WLOX) Bobbi Gray (left) and Celeste Swaim (right) (Photo source: WLOX)
History has been made in Harrison County.(Photo source: WLOX) History has been made in Harrison County.(Photo source: WLOX)
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

A Gulfport couple made history in South Mississippi on Monday by becoming the first same-sex couple to say "I do" in Harrison County. The couple exchanged vows right outside the Circuit Clerk's Office around 1 p.m. It was a moment they didn't think would ever happen in their lifetime.

"Bobbi, do you freely and unreservedly offer yourself to Celeste? If so, say I do," said the Rev. Errol Montgomery Robertson, a retired priest.

"I do," replied Bobbi Gray.

They held hands outside the Circuit Clerk's Office and declared their love for one another. Just moments before, Gray and Celeste Swaim were in the office filling out paperwork. They became the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Harrison County.

"My phone went off, and I went and got her and said, "Come on, let's go," said Swaim."It feels amazing. Not that I wanted to be first. I didn't have to be first in line, but to be the first one, I'm proud."

"It's nice to be first, but we're doing it for everybody. Let everybody know come on down now. It's not hurt anybody yet. It's not gotten in anybody's way, but we can do what we need to get done now," said Gray.

Gray and Swaim have been a couple for two years. They didn't want to get married anywhere else.

"This is our home," said Gray.

"We have talked about, oh, let's go to California, let's go to Florida, and when it was in a minute legal in Alabama, but no. We're here. We live here. We want to be married here, and so we waited," said Swaim.

They had to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage, but when the landmark decision came down Friday, they had to wait again. That's because the Mississippi Attorney General said the ruling would not become effective until the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans lifted its stay on a pending same-sex appeal. The AG sent another email Monday, clarifying his statement.

"His suggestion was that we go ahead and issue the marriage license. The couples have to be informed when they get the license that there's a chance, depending on the ruling for the case that's out there, that the marriage could be invalid," said Harrison County Deputy Circuit Clerk Connie Ladner.

That information must also be added to the marriage application.

"I don't have a worry about it. I'm walking out on faith that this is not going to be an issue, and I put my little initials next to that caveat on there and off we went," said Swaim.

They couldn't wait any longer.

"By the power vested in me by the State of Mississippi, I pronounce you legally married. You may kiss your spouse," said Robertson.

With those words, Gray and Swaim made South Mississippi history.

"We got it first, and it's done," said Gray.

"Yeah, we're official," said Swaim.

"I really didn't think I was going to cry, but I did. It's very emotional. It's emotional for anybody. I don't care who you are," said Swaim.

"It's done baby. It's done," said Gray as she turned to give Swaim a kiss.

The Harrison County Circuit Clerk's Office said two other same-sex couples got their marriage licenses Monday, including Deborah Watkins and Anita Twiner. The Long Beach couple has been together for nine years and also wanted to wait to get married in Mississippi.

“It feels unbelievable. It doesn't even feel real,” said Watkins as tears filled her eyes. “We're just delighted. It's been a long time coming. It's been a lot of hard work, and we're very excited. Now, we want to go celebrate.”

“I had faith that it would come, but I didn't know when,” said Twiner.

The applications had to be changed. Instead of saying ‘male applicant' and 'female applicant,' they now say 'applicant one' and 'applicant two.' Previously, the marriage license said ‘Mr. and Miss/Ms,' but now it just allows space for names.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • First same-sex couple exchanges vows in Harrison Co.More>>

  • Breaking

    Harrison Co. will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

    Harrison Co. will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

    Monday, June 29 2015 12:38 PM EDT2015-06-29 16:38:23 GMT
    Monday, June 29 2015 4:08 PM EDT2015-06-29 20:08:11 GMT
    Mississippi will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Monday, becoming the last state in the nation to do so, following Friday's Supreme Court decision. But legal experts say they can't guarantee the validity of the licenses just yet.More >>
    Mississippi will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Monday, becoming the last state in the nation to do so, following Friday's Supreme Court decision. But legal experts say they can't guarantee the validity of the licenses just yet.More >>
Powered by Frankly