NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Crowds gathered Friday afternoon as the first same-sex marriages were performed in Nashville following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage.
Officials with the Davidson County Clerk’s Office said they were told by the Attorney General they could begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately.
The office said the plan was to start at noon. A small crowd had gathered since the Supreme Court’s decision Friday morning.
Nikki and Lauren Von Haeger were the first same-sex couple to marry in at the Clerk's Office, and in all, 24 same-sex marriage licenses were given Friday.
Alex Fortney married her wife Kayla Friday in Nashville. Fortney said, "I feel like we've kind of been second class citizens for a long time and I feel like having this recognized and having the ability to do this kind of takes that away."
After they were married, the two were talking about this huge step in their lives, and Fortney added, "Legally! In Tennessee. In Nashville. It's so cool!"
Gay and lesbian couples could already marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The ruling means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court's previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.
In response to the ruling, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam released a statement saying:
“The people of Tennessee have recently voted clearly on this issue. The Supreme Court has overturned that vote. We will comply with the decision and will ensure that our departments are able to do so as quickly as possible.”
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean issued the following statement:
“I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is now legal in Tennessee. I joined Mayors for the Freedom to Marry last year because I believe all people should be treated fairly and equally and that everyone’s individual dignity should be respected. Welcoming and supporting people of all backgrounds and beliefs make our city stronger.”
Abby Rubenfeld was part of the legal team that brought the case for Tennessee.
She says she was planning on being in Washington DC on Monday when she thought the ruling would come out.
"I’ve been a lawyer for 36 years and I’ve done gay rights for the whole time," Rubenfeld said. "I never thought I would see this day."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)