Same-sex couple makes history by saying ‘I do’

Gay couple becomes first to marry in La Crosse County

On Monday, Ken Riley and Jay Lokken said ‘I do’ in the comfort of their home. Their wedding not only marks a day they will never forget but also leaves a footprint in our area’s history.

They’ve been by each others side for 20 years now, but said being able to legally marry feels surreal.

“When I picked up the marriage license I kept looking at it thinking ‘is this real?’ so I think it’s going to take a few weeks,” Lokken said.

Longtime friend Judge Scott Horne said he was honored to carry out the first same-sex marriage in La Crosse County.

“What a great couple that is in the position to make that historic commitment,” Horne said.  

The ceremony began just after 8 p.m. They wanted something small and to be around the ones who’ve stood by them for the past two decades.

“Twenty years ago, coming out was not an easy thing and so we needed a support system and all of these people have been there for us,” Riley said.

Among those supporters was Ken’s son Alex Riley. He’s known Jay and his dad as a couple since he was four. 

“In my sense they’ve always been married for 20 years, but I’m happy to see that they are finally able to say that they are legally married,” Riley said.

 He said what he witnessed was the marriage of his parents.

“I never considered Jay my dad’s partner. I’ve always considered him my second dad,” Riley said.

When Ken and Jay met each other something just clicked. They believe being able to marry years later makes their bond even stronger.

“We were supposed to be together so it felt right 20 years ago but it feels more right now,” Riley said.