By David Esteppe
With almost 30 states now accepting same sex marriages, West Virginia’s Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced his backing of the Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s decision to no longer enforce the state’s same sex marriage ban, and to allow the legal marriages to move forward in the state.
Following the state’s decision, long time couple Lee and Mark Gillespie, of White Sulphur Springs, went to the courthouse in Lewisburg to apply for their marriage license. Subsequently, they held a very private ceremony with only their closest friends and family on Wednesday. This is the first same sex couple to wed in Greenbrier County. The license reads groom and groom. The state of Virginia, in contrast while racing to issue marriage licenses, decided to use the term spouse and spouse.
The Gillespies have been together for over 40 years, after meeting while doing theater in Weston. They share a last name already, as Lee’s family legally adopted Mark many years ago. “What else could we do?” says Lee. “It was only natural. Our families loved us then, and of course still do,” he added. They have experienced discrimination at times, but the support of family, friends and community has, by far, overshadowed this. After the word of the ceremony got around, passersby blew their car horns and shouted “Congratulations!”
Lee and Mark Gillespie are very happy, and yet surprised that West Virginia did not press on with its ban. Mark says, “This will be old news soon enough, and West Virginia won’t be the last state in the country to have ended this discrimination.”