Volunteers Help Marry Same-Sex Couples

Only two Arkansas Counties are still issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Those are Pulaski and Washington Counties.

On Tuesday (May 13), 38 same-sex marriage licenses were issued in Washington County.

There have been some people at the Courthouse helping same-sex couples during the process.

Michelle Lester Bell has been taking photographs of same-sex couples at the Washington County Courthouse this week, giving couples a keepsake.

Lester Bell is friends with Laura Phillips, an ordained minister who officiated the very first same-sex couple to legally marry in Arkansas.

Phillips officiated some marriages for same-sex couples in Fayetteville on Monday. Lester Bell said Phillips has become known as “the woman in a rainbow dress.”

“We kind of just jokingly said we are team rainbow dress, because people were like why are you doing this,” Lester Bell said. “Somebody started a hashtag on Facebook and tagged us into it, so we were like we are going to run with this.”

Team Rainbow turned into the name of a Facebook album, Lester Bell is using to capture photos of same-sex couples’ marriages.

“Folks can tag themselves in it, start a conversation, find photos of people who are getting married today and see the families that those people have,” Lester Bell said. “The album also puts a face on equality.”

Along with taking pictures, Lester Bell has provided couples with doughnuts and flowers. She said her purpose is to make the day special for those involved.

“We are here to support you and to make sure you’ve got people who can cheer you on and make sure this is a special day,” she said.

Lester Bell is not the only one volunteering. Norman Hadley also was on hand to help.

“I’m here to make history,” said Hadley. “I mean, I am here because love is love and I had to be apart of this.”

Hadley has officiated weddings at the Washington County Courthouse free of charge.

“I’m just riding the high,” Hadley said. “I mean it’s just been so amazing to see these people and to share it with them.”

Both Hadley and Lester Bell plan to continue to help out as long as same-sex marriage licenses are being issued.

On Monday the Washington County Courthouse issued 23 licenses in the first half hour. By the end of the day, 84 licenses were issued.

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