Most visitors come to the Eastside for the scenery and recreational opportunities, but same-sex couple Belinda Maria Crnich and Charity Ann Winsor traveled from Washington, Utah to Independence last week for a different reason: to be wed in a civil wedding ceremony performed by Inyo County Clerk-Recorder Kammi Foote.
The wedding was the first performed by Foote since she took over the primary responsibility of civil wedding ceremonies from the County’s Superior Court Judges on September 16. Foote performed a second ceremony after Crnich and Winsor on September 20, wedding Wayne Myers Hume and Eugene Donovan, another out-of-state, same-sex couple. Hume and Donovan had been together for 26 years.
“It was truly an honor to be a part of both of these ceremonies,” Foote said.
Crnich and Winsor traveled from Utah to California because in Utah, such civil ceremonies are prohibited for same-sex couples. The couple chose Independence because of the name, Winsor said. As for the ceremony, she added, “It was fun. Everybody was so kind and polite. Nobody batted an eye, which I’m not used to. It was a nice break from Utah,” she added.
The couple had been dating for about a year and a half, and living together for the past nine months. Being married “Doesn’t feel that much different,” Winsor laughed. “Except Belinda caught herself saying we’re dating; then she went, ‘Oh yeah, we’re married now.’”
Thus far, Foote said Inyo County residents have responded positively to the Clerk’s expanded role in performing civil wedding ceremonies. “The public has been very supportive of the ability of the County Clerk to expand services to the public in this area,” she said. “I welcome any couple to contact our office and schedule a ceremony with us.”
Considering the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to deny the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages, as well as to rule that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, Inyo County may soon see more same-sex more couples seeking ‘Independence.’
Meanwhile in Mono County, County Clerk-Recorder Lynda Roberts said she also performs same-sex civil wedding ceremonies. “I have performed several since the Prop. 8 decision,” she said. All couples to her recollection came from outside of the County.