Ringgold same-sex couple marries at Danville park

Tracey Barrett-Turner (left) and Lora Turner (right) were married at 2 p.m. Thursday, October 9, in an outdoor ceremony held in Dan Daniel Park. The same-sex couple had to get an out of state officiant, Rev. Elizabeth C. Grimes of North Carolina (center), to perform their wedding.

The first same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license in Pittsylvania County was married earlier this month at Dan Daniel Memorial Park in Danville.

Lora Turner and Tracey Barrett of Ringgold were the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license on Oct. 6 after a federal appeals court issued a ruling making same-sex marriages legal in Virginia.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a supporter of same-sex marriage, advised local clerk’s offices to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Getting married, however, wasn’t quite a walk in the park for Turner, 48, and Barrett, 40. The women had trouble finding someone to marry them.

Turner said when they applied for their marriage license, the clerk’s office gave them two phone numbers of people who performed marriages.

“One was for a lawyer in Altavista,” said Turner. “He said it would cost $100, and we had to drive to Altavista.

“The other was for the Church of the Epiphany in Danville. He wanted to know how I got his phone number.”

According to the Code of Virginia, no one is allowed to charge more than $50 for performing a marriage ceremony.

Turner said she called the clerk’s office about the problem.

“Pittsylvania County said they had no clerk of court that would do it,” she said.

Pittsylvania County Clerk of Court H.F. Haymore said Monday that he is no longer authorized to perform marriages.

Haymore said his authorization was recently revoked.

“Nobody in this office has the authority to perform marriages,” he said. “Just being the clerk of court does not give me authority to marry anyone.”

Turner said after she posted the situation on Facebook, Todd Haley, president of Danville PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), contacted her and said he knew someone in Greensboro, N.C., who would perform the wedding.

Haley introduced the couple to the Rev. Elizabeth C. Grimes, an all-faiths wedding official.

“We didn’t even have to pay her for marrying us,” said Turner. “All we had to do was give her gas money.”

They got married two days later at Dan Daniel Park under a tree that went sideways and had another part growing out of it.

“At first we were going to get married on the wooden bridge, but Liz pointed out the tree. It was a cool looking tree,” said Turner.

Four of their friends were present at the ceremony and took pictures.

Barrett’s daughter was in school that day.

However, Turner said they plan to do something with her later to celebrate, such as a BBQ when the weather’s better.

Turner wore black jeans, a white shirt, a rainbow colored tie, and black boots

“Tracey had on a real nice fall colored blouse and purple jeans tucked into her cowboy boots. She had her hair fixed,” said Turner.

On Sunday the couple traveled to the mountains, visiting Mabry Mill and the Star in Roanoke.

According to Turner, they plan to take the marriage license to the local social security office and division of motor vehicles to make the name change official. Barrett is going to hyphenate her name now and will be Barrett-Turner.

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