NORMAN — Norman City Councilman Tom Kovach says he believes he is the only elected official in Oklahoma who is legally married to a same-sex partner.
He's more than likely correct.
Kovach, elected in 2008, married his longtime partner Will Weir in September at the couple's ranch in New Mexico.
Kovach, who represents Ward 2 in Norman, said he met Weir more than 15 years ago through mutual friends. They've been a couple since.
The councilman said the couple chose New Mexico because of its ambiguous marriage law, which doesn't specifically define marriage as being between a man and woman. The New Mexico Supreme Court is now reviewing the issue and could hand down a decision in the near future.
Kovach said he and Weir got their license in Santa Fe County, home to the capital of the state. They later got married at their ranch, which Weir inherited recently, in Colfax County, which doesn't issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
“There are seven counties in New Mexico that are currently issuing licenses to same-sex couples,” Kovach said. “The way their law is written, you don't have to be a resident, and once you get the license you can get married anywhere in the state.
“When we found out about it, we planned it pretty quick.”
Nationwide, 15 states have legalized same-sex marriage. The most recent state to do so, Hawaii, took the step Wednesday.
Kovach said he and Weir now will be eligible to receive benefits from the federal government and can file their income taxes as a married couple.
In Oklahoma, openly gay or lesbian elected officials are rare. Right now, only Kovach, state Sen. Al McAffrey and state Rep. Kay Floyd are members of that club, at least publicly.
Both McAffrey and Floyd represent districts in the Oklahoma City area.
“We have met before, we do talk from time to time,” Kovach said of McAffrey and Floyd.
Kovach said he was particularly proud of the wedding announcement that ran in the local paper within the past 10 days.
“I've been kind of overwhelmed by the feedback. ... If there was any negative (comments) those people were kind enough to keep it to themselves,” he said. “To put it in the paper, it means a lot to us for people to see that. Especially the younger (same-sex couples). It gives them hope.”