Same-sex marriage decision leads to culture clash in Boone County

Leila Peters and Ruth Landau
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One of the federal lawsuits over same-sex marriage started in Lebanon, Indiana, when a lesbian couple walked into the clerk's office for a marriage license and was denied.

On Wednesday, another couple, Leila Peters and Ruth Landau, got their marriage license. They got married Thursday morning and quickly registered the marriage with the clerk. They did not want to give the court time to change its mind.

"We were concerned that if we put it in the mail, that it might be too late," said Peters.

The Boone County Clerk didn't start issuing issuing marriage licenses to gay couples as soon as the federal court ruling was issued. Clerk Penny Bogan was in total shock.

"You weren't ready for this?" we asked her.

"No," she answered "Totally unprepared. I had to call the state with questions."

Their questions answered, staffers began processing applications. They've issued a dozen marriage licenses to gay couples.

If the emergency stay is granted and the judge's ruling is put on hold or reversed, couples like Leila and Ruth don't know whether their marriages will remain intact or be declared void.

"We look forward to sharing our lives together and the government will do what it will do," Landau said "It doesn’t change the love we have. It doesn't change the commitment we have."

The couple admitted that coming to the clerk's office was a little scary.

Peters explained: "We were afraid when we came in here we would be ridiculed or put away or something like that. When we went for our wedding rings, people were so welcoming.”

Clerk Bogan is getting plenty of emails and Facebook messages. "Good and bad," she said. "It's one of those things. I'm not going to make everyone happy."

Boone County is politically and religiously conservative. Although Ina Mae Cunningham's faith tells her homosexuality is wrong, "God tells us to love these people. We are to hate the sin, whatever the sin is," she said quietly but confidently.

More than one person on Lebanon's downtown sidewalks told us their attitudes toward gay marriage are changing.

Pam Klingler says she's conservative. But her daughter is homosexual and marrying a woman.

"I think we are becoming more free minded about these things," she said. "I think we have no choice."

Everyone we spoke with had an opinion on gay marriage. Only a few were willing to share it on camera.