Blushing Brides

By Laura Latzko, Nov. 6, 2014.

As Arizona’s 15 county clerks of court made preparations to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex on the morning of Oct. 17, the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix Hotel was making very similar preparations ahead of One Community’s Spotlight on Success Awards luncheon.

To accommodate the breaking news, the annual even that recognizes local heroes featured an impromptu wedding ceremony followed by wedding cake.

Two of blushing brides, Sue Wieger and Sheila Kloefkorn, were married in a brief ceremony, with Mayor Greg Stanton as their witness.

“We didn’t think it would happen so soon, and we are very blessed and grateful it happened, and now everyone across the state has the same opportunity as us,” Wieger said. “It changes our lives dramatically in the sense of our legal rights in the United States.”

Previously, the two women held a commitment ceremony at the Desert Botanical Garden May 11, 2013, before friends and family members, but longed for legal recognition. However, the two never considered marrying out of state because being married in their home state was the most important part for both of them.

“We wanted Arizona to recognize our marriage, and we were going to wait until we got it here,” Wieger said.

The Tempe couple’s first date was in January 2011, and Wieger proposed to Kloefkorn in July the same year at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

Not only are both women members of the Human Rights Campaign’s steering committee, they both worked with Why Marriage Matters Arizona to make marriage equality a reality here in Arizona.

Additionally, Kloefkorn serves on the national board for the HRC and has been working toward bringing marriage equality to all 50 states. And, on the same day marriage equality came to Arizona, it also was being celebrated in Kloefkorn’s home state of Wyoming.

Wieger said that although same-sex couples have marriage rights, she and her wife will continue in the fight for a non-discrimination workplace policy for LGBT people.

“People are going to say, ‘Yeah, I can get married, but I can’t work in Arizona because I can’t be open, and my workplace isn’t going to be accepting,’ and they are absolutely right,” Wieger said. “Now that we have marriage equality, we want workplace equality. We want people to know Arizona is an inclusive – not a non-inclusive – state.”

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