KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Same-sex couples in Kansas City are looking forward to the opportunity to have their commitments to each other recognized legally.
Jerry Cundiff and Paul Osgood have been together for almost 40 years. They met in 1976 at a convention. After one year, Cundiff presented Osgood with a ring to represent their commitment.
“We've been working for marriage equality for a long time,” said Osgood. “We thought this was something we were going to do for our next generation of gay people, making it a better world for them.”
On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Missouri’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution. Jackson County immediately started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, 16 of them that afternoon. A judge also married 12 couples at the downtown courthouse the same day.
“I think it's tremendously exciting,” said Jerry Pope. “I was very excited when I called and said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is happening.’”
Pope and his partner of 20 years, Rick Truman, are traveling to Iowa next weekend to get married. They are sticking with their plan, even though the thought of getting their license in Missouri crossed their minds.
“We kind of thought about but then I said, ‘I don't know if it's going to last long, I don't know if it's going to be appealed, I don't know what's going to happen,’” said Pope.
Missouri’s attorney general is appealing Friday’s ruling, but Pope and Truman recognize what this means in the future.
“It's thrilling to know that before we were going to Iowa and have some of the rights and that would be a good thing,” said Truman. “But now to realize that wow, everything's changed and we're potentially going to be in the same position as any other legally married couple, that's huge for us.”
The Rev. Chase Peeples at the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ cannot wait to start marrying couples in his sanctuary.
“For years, I have done weddings for gay and lesbian couples where they've got a license from another state,” he said. “I can't wait for them to have the chance to be recognized by their home states. It is time.”
Peeples said his church has welcomed people from the LGBT community for more than 20 years. He said politicians need to recognize that there are people of faith who support the right to marry for all individuals.
“There are over 1,000 legal rights that you get with a marriage license that are not available if you don't have one,” said Peeples. “These couples that have been together for years and decades, committed to one another, should have those rights. Love is love, and if you love someone and you're committed to them, you should get the legal rights that come with it.”
After sharing their lives for 38 years, Cundiff and Osgood are considering their own future, with the possibility of marriage.
“We always said we would get married when we could get married in our own church, when we could get a license in Kansas,” Cundiff said. “So we're looking to our anniversary time in 2015.”
Cundiff will be 76 years old and Osgood will be 70 at that time.
“We never realized it would be something we could actually have,” Osgood said. “We were ecstatic when we found out this is something we could have as well.”