Campus wedding recognized after SCOTUS rejects appeals

James Vaughn

Angie and Kristi O'Nan wed June 25 at the Publishing Services Center on campus. Photo courtesy of Angie O'Nan

Angie and Kristi O’Nan wed June 25 at the Publishing Services Center on campus. Photo courtesy of Angie O’Nan

Angie O’Nan and her wife, Kristi, are legally married. Again. And it won’t be the last time the two celebrate their union. The next ceremony, however, will be celebrated with family and friends and will include cake, O’Nan said.

The Supreme Court refused Monday morning to review lower court rulings that struck down gay marriage bans in five states, including Indiana, making gay marriage legal again.

“It is such a relief,” O’Nan said. “It has been exhausting and frustrating to have rights one moment and have them stripped away the next.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Young struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage June 25, which resulted in a one-day window for gay couples to tie the knot before Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a notice of appeal and an emergency request for a stay, immediately halting gay marriages.

O’Nan, an administrative associate for University Communications, married Kristi, her partner of 11 years, June 25 in the Publishing Services Center on campus – a marriage that was quickly disregarded by the state.

She and Kristi had to go through extra legal steps to secure the well being of their 7-year-old and 3-year-old sons, she said.

“We had told them both that we had gotten married, but said nothing when the rights were taken away,” O’Nan said. “I didn’t want to upset (them).”

Both Vanderburgh and Warrick County clerks began issuing marriage licenses again Monday.

The impromptu ceremony

“When I woke up Wednesday morning, I had no idea that I’d be married by the end of the day,” O’Nan said June 30. “We had talked about going to a state that allowed same-sex couples to marry, but decided to concentrate on buying a new home first.”

The couple participated in a civil union ceremony in Vermont in 2004, but it served as nothing more than a symbolic promise to each other once they returned home to Indiana.

O’Nan was sitting in Gay and Lesbian Discourse, a summer class, when she heard the news June 25.

“Ironically enough, the discussion was about same-sex marriage,” she said.

O’Nan said a classmate got a notification that the ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional.

“I thought there would be a waiting period and, of course, appeals,” she said.

It wasn’t until she returned to work that she realized there was no waiting period.

“I had a doctor’s appointment planned for 3:30,” O’Nan said. “In the meantime, (Kristi) was on the phone trying to find out if Vanderburgh County was issuing licenses. When she found out they were, it was time for me to leave work for my doctor’s appointment. Kristi said we would need to be at the County Clerk’s Office by 3:30 to get our certificates that day.”

O’Nan said she immediately cancelled her doctor’s appointment and rushed to pick Kristi up from work.

When she sent friend Danielle Norris a message telling her the ban was lifted, Norris reminded her that she was an ordained minister. So O’Nan made arrangements to meet up with Norris, who is a web content specialist in Web Services, the following day after work to have her sign the papers and announce them married.

But once they picked up the certificate, O’Nan changed her mind.

“We were so excited to finally have that certificate in our hands,” she said. “So as I’m driving, I said to Kristi, ‘Send Danielle a text and see if she would be able to meet us on campus.’”

The couple needed witnesses, so O’Nan asked her co-workers to help out.

Norris met O’Nan and Kristi at the Publishing Services Center that afternoon.

“Sara Schmidt and LaVerne Jones from Photography and Multimedia overheard the commotion and came out and started snapping pictures,” O’Nan said.

University Communications Director John Farless and Senior Writer Connie Stambush signed as witnesses.

“Obviously I did not go into work Wednesday morning expecting to perform a same-sex marriage,” Norris said June 27. “But I was happy to help out a friend.”

Norris, who was ordained online in 2011, said the ceremony was spontaneous and, as a result, informal.

“Angie and Kristi seem like a very committed couple – they’ve been together for over 10 years and have two children together – and seeing them and their relationship get the recognition they deserve was very touching,” Norris said. “Performing that ceremony was probably one of the more rewarding things I will ever do.”

It was the first marriage Norris had performed.

“It was the most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done in my life,” O’Nan said. “We had to tell our sons that we would still have a wedding ceremony that they could be a part of and that they would still get to have cake.”

And now, nearly four months later, they can.