First same-sex couple applies for marriage license in Jackson Co - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

First same-sex couple applies for marriage license in Jackson County

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Duane Cole and Joe Powers are the first couple in southern Illinois to apply for and be granted a marriage license. Duane Cole and Joe Powers are the first couple in southern Illinois to apply for and be granted a marriage license.
JACKSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) -

Thirty-three years later, it's official for a same-sex couple in Jackson County.

Duane Cole and Joe Powers are the first couple in southern Illinois to apply for and be granted a marriage license.

A state law legalizing same-sex marriage takes effect June 1, but the ruling by the federal court means there's nothing to stop couples from marrying now.

Overjoyed, the couple said Wednesday seemed surreal, something they never thought would happen.

"It is not like I woke up this morning and felt somehow different. I said, 'oh this is it, this is the day and it is going to be happening," said Joe Powers.

"We have never lived behind that shield and kind of seen it as our role to be who we are in front of other people so that they can know people like us and that we are not any different then you are," said Duane Cole.

The couple was also the first to apply for a civil union in the county in June 2011.

They say the support from family, friends and total strangers has made the wait worth it.

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