HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County Probate Office issued marriage applications to their first ten same-sex couples after a U.S. Supreme Court decision paved the way for South Carolina to become the 35th state to allow same-sex marriage.
Though it wasn't necessarily the crowd they expected, the Horry County Probate office did have some couples show up shortly after noon. The first couple to apply, Jon Harmon and Mark Pokrant, have been together for over 24 and a half years. However, they weren't trying to make history. For them, they say it was all about being recognized as a married couple and the security of legally being able to be there for one another.
"Now when push comes to shove and when we're in a bad situation, we can be there for each other without having to jump through hoops," Pokrant said.
The third couple to fill out their marriage application, Neal and Tom Osborne-Owens, finally feel like a family. They explained over six years ago, they started to adopt children, "and at that point we hyphenated our last names, just to unite us as a family,"
Though they had a civil union in Hawaii about 12 years ago, the couple wasn't legally married. However, to be safe, they explained they went ahead and filled out legal documentation, such as wills and powers of attorney documentation to secure they were safe if anything happened.
They say they carried these files every where they went, as they spoke, they said the file was actually downstairs in their glove compartment, but now that's a measure they won't be needing to take and they and their three children can celebrate being a family.
Maureen McGinty, a notary public, came to the probate office around 10 a.m. She explained she was also a nurse for over 30 years.
"I'd be in the emergency room and their partner was outside, and they couldn't come in because they weren't related. To me, that was just so sad," McGinty said.
Now, when push comes to shove, same-sex couples will be able to be there by their spouse's side.
"When we're in a bad situation, we can be there for each other without having to jump through hoops," Pokrant said.
Along with the smiling faces leaving the probate office, McGinty felt there was something else.
"I think relief more than anything," McGinty noticed. Some couples expressed just that, and say they no longer have to worry.
"And now finally we don't have to, its over," Neal Osborne-Owens said as he hugged his partner, Tom.