FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ohio – Dozens of couples tied the knot at the Franklin County Municipal Courthouse on Valentine’s Day. They came in all ages, ethnicities, and genders.
A couple from Mexico has been together for more than two decades and Friday they made their partnership official. Other couples represented a wide variety of countries including the Dominican Republic, China, and South Africa.
Simon Power and Kirsten Packer are scientists working here in Ohio. They say while they were taking their vows, their parents were back in South Africa together toasting the couple with a glass of champagne.
“I think it’s very exciting and a very special moment within both of our lives and we’re very happy to be able to share it in Ohio and on such a days as Valentine’s Day as well,” Power said.
“I feel like if we were at home they wouldn’t make so much about Valentine’s Day and it’s really cool to be here where it means a lot to Americans; I like that,” Packer said.
Power, a post-grad researcher held his wife’s hand as their ceremony began; she’s a botanist.
Just about everyone who walked into the courtroom on the 14th floor of the municipal court walked out with a smile on their face.
Some of the biggest smiles came from Yixin “Sam” Shangguan and her spouse Fanjing “Emma” Zhang. The same-sex couple are studying law here in Ohio, while their families are back in China. With same-sex marriage unavailable in China, their union will likely be ignored by the communist government if they were to return. The pair and their friends took many pictures and videos to share the moment with those that couldn’t be with them at the courthouse.
Meanwhile, several more couples were married in the courtroom. It took the Hon. Jim O’Grady about 90 seconds to conduct the ceremony in most situations. Marriages that consisted of people who have English as a second language, or are non-English speakers who brought a translator took a little while longer.
The ceremony was straight forward and to the point; a statement about the honorable institution of marriage, how it is the foundation of the home and that the home is the foundation of all organized society. That was followed with two questions, one for the groom and one for the bride. With an appropriate response of “I do,” or “Yes,” the judge would continue with the exchange of rings if the couple brought them. During the exchange, the couple would repeat after the judge statements about the significance and symbolism of the rings. Then, having completed the steps they needed to in front of the judge he pronounced them married; and a shared first kiss as spouses generally followed.
A few photographs, some with the judge, and instructions on what to do next with their paperwork was all that was left to do before the couple walked out of the courtroom, often as the next was coming in.
This Valentine’s event has been going on down at the courthouse for more than a decade, and it drew curious court staff to see the happy couples pledging themselves to each other. Some of them needed to do this because their destination wedding wouldn’t be legally binding. Others did it because they don’t want a big, extravagant wedding.
No matter their reason, one thing is certain; those who made the commitment Friday have started a new chapter in their life where they will love, honor and cherish their partner, both in sickness and in health; in poverty and wealth; and promised to forsake all others so long as they both shall live. Congratulations, to them all.
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