County gives licenses for gay marriage | AspenTimes.com

County gives licenses for gay marriage

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

"It's the real deal."

Laurie Cohen-Ringler said these words outside the Pitkin County Courthouse on Friday morning after she and her partner of 23 years, Robin Margolin, became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Pitkin County. The marriage license, Cohen-Ringler said, is recognition of their relationship, adding, "We're not posing for anyone."

Though their wedding ceremony took place at the Little Nell on Oct. 12, Cohen-Ringler, 53, and Margolin, 52, drove from Denver, where they live, to Aspen on Thursday in order to be first in line Friday morning.

The second couple, Tom Pritchard and Jody Rhone, waited 21 years to marry, with both agreeing Friday that it was love at first sight in 1993, when they met at New York's annual outdoor drag-queen festival, Wigstock.

"Love is love," 70-year-old Pritchard proclaimed.

It's been more than two weeks since Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill announced her office's legal authority to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The milestone came on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear appeals from states within the 10th Circuit federal court district, which includes Colorado, seeking to ban same-sex marriage. A June 25 ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said Utah's gay-marriage ban was unconstitutional.

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Since May 2013, Colorado has allowed civil unions for same-sex couples, but marriage licenses have been taboo since 2006 because of a ban approved by state voters.

"It's been a long time coming, and now it's happening so fast," Pritchard said. "The opposition around the country is dropping so quickly."

Though the couple said they enjoyed the enthusiasm inside the County Clerk's office Friday as they signed the license, the real moment was a year ago, when the couple, who reside in Aspen and New York, held their wedding in Crested Butte. Their reception came the night before the ceremony, and in the spirit of Wigstock, guests wore phony hair and enjoyed the entertainment of acrobatics, aerial trapeze and artists.

"Most people are not used to doing this kind of thing, getting dragged up," Pritchard said.

"It wasn't drag," Rhone, 49, interjected.

"It wasn't drag, but the minute you transform yourself into something else," Pritchard continued, "you drop all of your resistance, and everybody had a great time. It's like you're free to just talk and be with people and dance."

Rhone said the atmosphere from the party carried over to the wedding, which was the point of holding the reception the night before. That way guests, who traveled from all over, were familiar and comfortable with one another at the ceremony.

"It made it so much better," Pritchard said.

Though they waited 21 years to get married, Rhone pointed out that many couples before them have waited much longer. Pritchard said they were under the impression that Friday morning would be a procedural affair, that they would walk in, sign the paper and walk out.

"It is an event in that it's the first time," Pritchard said. "It's amazing being a part of that. … It's great just to see the happy faces in the recorder's stall. Everyone's very excited about it. It's the right thing. We finally got there."

Vos Caudill said her office had expected Cohen-Ringler and Margolin but was pleasantly surprised to see Pritchard and Rhone show up, as well.

"We're thrilled that we had two couples at the same time," she said. "And we're happy to be able to accommodate anyone within the community who wishes to be married. Our office is excited and looks forward to issuing marriage licenses."

herk@aspentimes.com

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