Gay couples have been celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage with spontaneous weddings and gatherings across the United States, while some conservative politicians and religious groups are demanding stronger legal protections for those wishing to avoid endorsing those unions.
Marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples minutes after the ruling in at least eight states in the South and Midwest where gay marriage was previously banned.
In Louisville, Kentucky, Benjamin Moore and Tadd Roberts wore matching tuxedos to the county clerk's office to get married Friday.
"It's just been incredible and historic and amazing to live this moment," Moore said. The mayor took commemorative photos of him and Roberts getting their license.
The courthouse in Georgia’s Fulton County had performed 17 same-sex marriages by 2:30 p.m. local time Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Georgia’s gay marriages continued Saturday in DeKalb County, where courts held special hours to handle the high demand.
In New York on Friday, thousands gathered around the city's Stonewall Inn, the site of riots in 1969 that are regarded as the catalyst for the gay-rights movement in the United States. Gay marriage has been legal in New York since 2011, and Mayor Bill de Blasio marked Friday's court ruling by officiating at two same-sex weddings and at the renewal of another couple's vows on the steps of City Hall.
Thousands also gathered in Washington, where the White House was illuminated in rainbow colors Friday night.
The reaction, however, was not as welcoming in some of the 14 states that have been holdouts against same-sex marriage.
In rural Alabama, a local judge refused to issue any marriage licenses at all to avoid having to give them to gay couples. Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen said Alabama law gives judges the option of granting licenses, and "I have chosen not to perform that function."
Conservative governors in Texas and Louisiana, as well as religious groups across the South and Midwest, also rallied against the ruling.
Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a Republican candidate for president, cautioned that the decision “will pave the way for an all-out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree.”
Religious organizations are exempt from the ruling, and Southern Baptist, Mormon and other churches opposed to same-sex marriages can still make their own decisions about whether clergy will conduct gay marriages in their places of worship.
Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, a prominent conservative Christian group based in Colorado, called the ruling “startling in its rejection of a societal understanding of marriage that goes back to the dawn of civilization.”
“We are concerned that this decision will fan the flames of government hostility against individuals, businesses and religious organizations whose convictions prevent them from officiating at, participating in or celebrating such unions,” Daly said.
The ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side about three weeks to ask for reconsideration.