Michael Snell, 53, and Steven Bridges, 42, exchanged vows inside Portland City Hall shortly after midnight as Snell‚Äôs two daughters, Mayor Michael Brennan and several reporters watched. Hundreds of people who had gathered outside in sub-freezing temperatures cheered the men as they left the building ‚ÄĒ they even sang the Beetles song ‚ÄúAll You Need Is Love‚ÄĚ as Snell and Bridges and the more than dozen other same-sex couples who either exchanged vows or obtained marriage licenses walked down the stairs.
‚ÄúIt means equality,‚ÄĚ Snell told documentarians with the Knack Factory moments after he and Bridges exchanged vows. ‚ÄúIt means that our relationship, our marriage is equal to everybody else‚Äôs.‚ÄĚ
The Portland City Clerk‚Äôs office remained open to any same-sex couple who wanted to apply for a marriage license or tie the knot until 3 a.m. The town clerk‚Äôs office in nearby Falmouth also opened at midnight for gays and lesbians who had already made appointments to get married.
The Portland-Press Herald reported South Portland City Clerk Susan Mooney issued marriage licenses to eight same-sex couples once her office ‚ÄĒ three of them tied the knot there ‚ÄĒ opened at 8 a.m. The Brunswick Town Clerk‚Äôs office also issued marriage licenses to gays and lesbians this morning.
Chris Kast and Byron Bartlett were among the same-sex couples who married at Portland City Hall after the law took effect.
They had a commitment ceremony two and a half years ago, but Kast told the Washington Blade earlier today their choice to get married after midnight was ‚Äúa matter of fact decision on our part‚ÄĚ to ‚Äúgo do it and be part of what was an amazing evening.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt felt incredible,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe energy was just all positive and joyful. It was amazing.‚ÄĚ
Maine‚Äôs same-sex marriage law took effect after voters on Election Day approved it by a 52-48 percent margin. They repealed an identical statute in 2009 that then-Gov. John Baldacci signed earlier that year.
Same-sex marriage referenda in Maryland and Washington also passed on Nov. 6. Minnesotans on Election Day struck down a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
‚ÄúAll the politics is done; now it‚Äôs just about actual couples and the people who have been together wanting to make it official,‚ÄĚ Matt McTighe, campaign manager of Mainers United for Marriage, the group that supported the same-sex marriage referendum, told the Blade. He was among those who gathered outside Portland City Hall to celebrate the state‚Äôs first legal gay nuptials. ‚ÄúThe energy was amazing. It was just nothing but happiness ‚ÄĒ take the best parts of every wedding you‚Äôve ever been too and multiply it by a hundred and that‚Äôs what it was like for these people.‚ÄĚ
Sue Estler and Paula Johnson, who have been together for 24 years, married in their Orono home on Saturday. The couple plans to have a larger celebration next summer, but Estler told the Blade just before she and Johnson exchanged vows they decided to marry on the first day same-sex couples in Maine can legally do so because ‚Äúwe‚Äôve waited so long.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs historic in Maine,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve had so many ups and downs and so forth. Our commitment has been long-term, and this formalizes it.‚ÄĚ
Donna Galluzzo, who married her partner of three years, Lisa Gorney, at Portland City Hall earlier on Saturday, echoed Estler.
‚ÄúWe had a feeling the vote was going to pass this year,‚ÄĚ Galluzzo told the Blade. ‚ÄúAfter the vote happened and once it was all signed into law and knew what day City Hall was going to open, we looked at each other and said ‚Äėlet‚Äôs do it.‚Äô It was a historic day and was important for us to be a part of history.‚ÄĚ
Kast agreed, describing the scene outside Portland City Hall after he and Bartlett exchanged vows as ‚Äúsurreal.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt has taken us so long to get here, to get to a place where everybody‚Äôs the same,” Kast said. “It was such a struggle and how no one should have to do that, no one should have to fight, no one should have to give money or knock on doors just to have the legal right to marry the person with whom they choose to spend the rest of their life with. But that aside, it was flippin‚Äô amazing. It really was.‚ÄĚ