14 October 2014
Clay Hysell and Brent Jacques have lived together on a small farm just outside Palmyra for the past 14 years. Last week, the two men made Fluvanna history when they became the first gay couple to be married in the county, taking advantage of the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in Virginia.
Judge Claude V. Worrell married Hysell and Jacques on Oct. 8 in a civil ceremony in the courthouse in Palmyra. Besides the couple and the judge, two witnesses – a clerk and a deputy – attended the bare-bones, brief ceremony.
Hysell and Jacques stood with Worrell before the bench under the great seal of Virginia, in a court room where the laws of the Commonwealth are interpreted and made real by their application to human lives. It seemed fitting that the county’s first gay marriage ceremony – the application of the state’s newest marriage law - happened there.
The judge had the two men clasp right hands, and then read a simple service.
“Clay and Brent, I ask that you both remember to treat yourself and each other with dignity and respect; to remind yourself often of what brought you together today. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness, and kindness that your marriage deserves. When frustration and difficulty assail your marriage – as these do to every relationship at one time or another – focus on what still seems right between you, not only the part that seems wrong. This way, when clouds of trouble hide the sun in your lives and you lose sight of it for a moment, you can remember that the sun is still there. And if each of you will take responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.”
The men took their vows, exchanged rings, and kissed. In this simple ceremony, rich in both sentiment and significance, history was made in Fluvanna County.