David Prok, left, and Jerry Knasel were at the East Greenwich Town Clerk’s office Wednesday to get their marriage license. They’ve been together since 1964. Credit: EG News
It was an hour before the end of candidate filing period, Wednesday afternoon around 3, and I was sitting on a bench outside the Town Clerk’s office to catch any last-minute filers when two men walked in, carrying some paperwork.
“Hi, you here to file?” I said.
“For a marriage license,” said one of the men, looking around as if unclear where to go.
“In there,” I said, pointing to the Town Clerk’s office, and in they went.
Two men. Marriage license.
I was there to for an election story, but same-sex marriage has been legal less than a year in Rhode Island. I followed them into the office.
The men, David Prok and Jerry Knasel (silent K), told me they live in Westlake, Ohio, and they’ve been together for 50 years. But since same-sex marriage isn’t legal in Ohio, a friend who lives in East Greenwich suggested they could get married here during their visit.
“Come on over. We’ll get you hitched in our place,” Prok recounted their friend saying. In Rhode Island, out-of-state couples may apply for a marriage license in the town in which the ceremony will take place.
The wedding was to take place on Friday at a house in East Greenwich, officiated by another friend, a Unitarian Universalist minister in Rhode Island for the UU General Assembly in Providence this weekend.
According to Elaine Vespia in the Town Clerk’s office, this wasn’t the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in East Greenwich, but there have only been a handful since marriage between same-sex couples became legal Aug. 1, 2013.
When the paperwork was completed, a smiling Vespia congratulated Prok, a professor of sociology, and Knasel, a retired teacher, then she turned to help someone who was there to file candidacy papers. The couple left with their marriage license in hand.