Capron men first to marry in county

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Two Capron men on Monday became the first in the Southampton County to obtain a license to marry. This followed the Supreme Court’s announcement that same day that it would not hear arguments to uphold bans against same-sex marriage in Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. This enabled those states to grant licenses that afternoon.

William Nick Kitchen IV confirmed on Tuesday that he and David Heath were married at the Southampton County Circuit Court.

“We were the first and only couple,” Kitchen said about applying for the license, which was issued by Clerk of Circuit Court Rick Francis, who confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that was the only one so far.

“I was surprised in only having one,” Francis said. “I thought I may get some overflow from other jurisdictions, such as Virginia Beach and Portsmouth. When I came into work, of course I had no idea that anything was turning on this point.

“It’s interesting to me that to know the Federal Court had to issue a mandate that all previous orders are in place. We clerks first heard about it late in the morning.”

He added that there was a rush to get the supporting computer programs in place to create the necessary forms.

Francis also said that other clerks in Virginia talked among themselves at the end of the day about how many licenses they issued, with someone reporting nine, but there was no difficulty in handling them.

Over in Isle of Wight County, there have been no same-sex applicants for marriage so far, according to Deanna Breeden, deputy clerk. She added that the cost for marriage licenses in Virginia is $30.

The process of getting the license took 10 to 15 minutes, Kitchen said, and added that the couple answered the same questions asked of anyone else.

“You have to show a photo ID, age, if you’ve been married before and so on and so forth,” he said.

The court’s refusal to hear appeals and the marriages that quickly followed are the culmination of many years of legal and social struggles for and against legalizing gay and lesbian marriages in the country.

In 2013, for example, the Supreme Court invalidated a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, which kept the U.S. government from honoring same-sex marriages in states that already recognized them.

Soon after the SCOTUS decision, Tim Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk applied for a license, but were denied. Along with Carol Schall and Mary Townley they filed a suit in a federal District Court, which ruled in their favor this past February. In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit supported the lower court.

On Monday, Bostic and London reportedly went to the Clerk of Circuit Court in Norfolk and got their license to marry.

With same-sex marriage legalized in the aforementioned states, the total is now 24 plus Washington, D.C. Other states that could increase the numbers are Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. That’s because they’re reportedly in the same judicial circuits.

Though Kitchen declined to share any thoughts or feelings about the moment, he did say that a civil ceremony was performed by the Nottoway River a few minutes after 4 p.m.