Same-sex marriages taking place in Lafayette

by Wynce Nolley

The Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court is now issuing same-sex marriage licenses to anyone in Lafayette Parish who wants them.

Melissa Beckham, left, and Chelsea Hughes, right, walk out of the Lafayette Parish Courthouse with their marriage license
Photo by Robin May

Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret is now issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Perret confirmed that as of 1:30 p.m. Monday, his office began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the parish.

After the announcement was made, several same-sex couples arrived within the hour at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse to receive their licenses.

“It is very surreal. It’s something we’ve waited for for a long time,” says Chelsea Hughes, standing next to her soon-to-be wife, Melissa Beckham.

Chelsea Hughes displays her marriage license
Photo by Robin May

“Honestly, we’re just blessed,” says Beckham. “Some people had to wait 20, 30, 40 years. So I’m blessed just to wait five years. It was worth it.”

The couple of five years expressed their credulity over the fact that they can now officially have their wedding ceremony in their home state.

“We’ve been planning our wedding forever, but we just thought it would have to be kind of like a commitment ceremony, but now it’s real wedding,” says Beckham.

“We were really excited, but a little cautious because we do live in the South,” adds Hughes while holding back tears. “We were happy for the other states that started it immediately, and the fact that it’s happening today is still so crazy for us.”

Lea Sedotal with her marriage license
Photo by Robin may

“It’s a huge, huge, win for us because we have a 3-year-old daughter and she gets to have the same rights as every other child,” says Lea Cedotal of Youngsville as she proudly walked out of the courthouse with her marriage license in hand.

Cedotal says she and her partner held a commitment ceremony 15 years ago.

“I just want to say thank you all. Congratulations to the rest of you out there. Never give up,” says Cedotal. “Now I get to take care of my family the way I was meant to and the way I was trying to.”

Asked what she had to say about the monumental decision, Cedotal says, “Keep the faith. Faith is a very strong word, so hold on to it. No matter who you pray to, pray to them. They keep you in their eyes and in their hearts just like you should.”

Josh Clark and Chase Bourgeois describe their planned ceremony at the end of the week
Photo by Robin May

Lafayette residents Josh Clark and Chase Bourgeois say that the decision to issue licenses in the state was long overdue.

“It’s awesome. It’s about time,” says Clark. “We just got back from Antigua, so we exchanged our vows there. So to come home and be able to do it legally is really great.”

The couple is planning a small ceremony at the end of the week with family and friends.

“We do on Friday,” says Clark. “We’ve been having it planned for about six months now. So now we can finally do it.”

Catherine Cox and Mary Speyrer exit the Lafayette Parish Courthouse with a completed marriage license courtesy of Judge Thomas Duplantier
Photo by Robin May

According to the Advocate, the first couple to arrive – Catherine Cox and Mary Speyrer, who declined to be interviewed by the press – were actually married by Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Thomas Duplantier:

Catherine Cox, 64, and Mary Speyrer, 58, left the courthouse about 3 p.m. with a completed marriage certificate in hand.

Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Thomas Duplantier had just married the two women, who were the first to apply for a same-sex marriage license in Lafayette Parish and the first same-sex couple to be legally married here.

The couple of 32 years declined interviews with the swarm of newspaper and TV reporters staking out the courthouse Monday afternoon, but they left their wedding all smiles.

Until early Monday, Louisiana was the only state not issuing licenses to same-sex couples following the decision handed down by the Supreme Court last Friday that struck down bans on same-sex marriages across the country.

Early Monday morning is when Jefferson Parish became the first parish in Louisiana to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. Other parishes, including several in Acadiana, have been following Jefferson's lead.

It is believed that Earl Benjamin and Michael Robinson may be the first gay couple to wed legally in Louisiana. Partners for almost 14 years, they exchanged vows before Judge Paula Brown in a ceremony at Orleans Parish Civil District Court Monday, reports