The injunction was not mentioned by U.S. District judge Brian Morris, so state officials can begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples right away.
Even though, in 2004, Montana defined through an amendment voted by the people, that marriage is between a man and a woman, Morris said that the amendment violated the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
Same-sex couples were able to wed in 32 states, before Wednesday. At least two counties, Missoula and Park already started issuing licenses on Wednesday while the other counties are set to start on Thursday morning.
The first same-sex couple that got married in Montana was formed of Kayla Bennett and Kristin Anderson. They exchanged vows in front of Minister Tobin Williams in a ceremony in South Carolina, in front of Charleston County Judicial Center.
Another couple, Amy Wagner, age 56 and Karen Langebeck, age 48, got on the road as soon as they heard about the news. They have been in love for 22 years and find it marvelous to finally be introduced as ‘married’.
The reason behind the rush is the fear that the decision will be appealed and officials will change their minds about same-sex marriage. One of the first people who announced his plan to appeal the ruling is Montana Attorney General, Tim Fox. However, he added that he will not seek to block marriages in the meantime.
Montana’s Governor, Steve Bullok stated that every step is taken to ensure legally married gay couples are recognized and given the same rights as any other married couple, inside the state of Montana.
The ruling on Wednesday came as a result of a case filed in May by four same-sex couples. The couples were backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Although three of these couples eventually got married in other states that allowed same-sex marriage, one of them continued to hope that they will exchange vows in their home state. It seems that the hope was not in vain.
“Montana is no longer left in the cold. It joins the ranks of states where all committed, loving couples can marry,”
declared Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, in a statement.