Karen Kroening of Potomac, Md. and Partner of 29 years 'excited' to receive same-sex marriage license at Montgomery County Circuit Courthouse

11:33 PM, Dec 6, 2012   |    comments
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ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA) -- A historic milestone in Maryland.

The Free State issued its first same-sex marriage licenses.
They may have their license now, but gay couples cannot legally marry until 12:01 on New Year's Day. That may have helped keep the crowds away.

But those that turned up were fired up."So excited, said Karen Kroening of Potomac. "Can't believe this day is here. Can't believe it. Been waiting for a long time."

Kroening and her partner of 29 years were just the second same-sex couple to receive a marriage license at the Montgomery County Circuit Courthouse. "We could have gone to DC," said Kroening, "but we didn't feel it was right or legal. We want to be married in Maryland. We cried the night. I don't know how many times we've cried in the last few weeks."

Montgomery clerk Lorretta Knight is among the first in Maryland to put together new marriage certificates. She's replaced "husband" and "wife" with "party one" and "party two."

Some rules will remain the same -- like the prohibition on throwing rice in the courthouse -- but the clerk already has her first same-sex ceremony booked for the wedding room after New Years Day. She's ready to add the names to the registries that go back decades. "Before I used to say husband and wife. Now I say, by the authority vested in me as clerk of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, I now pronounce you as married."

The state attorney general ruled that as soon as the governor certified Thursday morning that same sex marriage had been approved by the voters, clerks could start issuing licenses for weddings as soon as January 1.

But it was far quieter in Maryland than it was in Washington State, where voters last month also approved same sex marriage and couples lined up -- and held big celebrations when they got their licenses.

In Rockville, Kroening's partner asked that we not name her, nor photograph her face. She still fears fallout. "There's prejudice," said Kroening. "People don't believe in who we are or where we stand. Unfortunately, they don't want this to happen. But the people of Maryland have spoken, and we're going to be like everyone else."

Unlike Montgomery, Prince George's County is planning to issue one license for heterosexual couples and another for same-sex couples.

They're still trying to re-program the computer and won't be ready until next week.

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