Newlywed same-sex couples and their wedding parties celebrated into the wee hours of the morning Thursday, Aug. 1, the first day that gay marriage was legal in Minnesota.
Dozens of same-sex couples were wed before dawn in the Twin Cities metro, Duluth, and Crookston, the Star Tribune reports in metro-wide coverage that included a live blog, video from weddings at Minneapolis City Hall, as well as slideshows from ceremonies at St. Paul's Como Park Conservatory, and at the Mall of America.
Minneapolis City Hall was filled with gay and lesbian couples lining up to be a part of state history, local media reported. Mayor R.T. Rybak officiated the weddings of 42 gay and lesbian couples on the marble steps of the City Hall Rotunda, and 21 additional couples were married by Hennepin County judges in City Council chambers.
The Pioneer Press has the story of Bradley Weber and Ryan Pfeifle, who at 12:01 a.m. began a backyard ceremony in Eden Prairie, crowded with people lit by candlelight, lanterns and camera flashes.
In Duluth, five same-sex couples were married at just after midnight at Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery, the current incarnation of the historic Old City Hall downtown, the Duluth News Tribune reported.
In Crookston, three couples were married in the Polk County Commissioners’ Board Room, the Grand Forks Herald reported. “Mary (Gonzalez) and Katherine (Craig), have you considered the importance of the step that you are about to take?” a judge asked a Grand Forks couple during the ceremony. "Yes!" responded the couple who had been waiting to marry for several years, the Herald reports.
The first couple to legally marry in Minneapolis was Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke, who stood on the steps with their 5-year-old son Louie, MPR reported.
MPR notes the words of Rybak, who made it official: "By the power now finally vested in me, by the laws of the people of Minnesota, we hereby declare Margaret and Cathy legally married." The gathered crowd erupted in applause and witnesses wiped away tears, MPR noted.
“I didn’t expect to cry quite that hard,” a beaming Cathy ten Broeke said afterward, the Associated Press reported.
The Pioneer Press talked with Reid Bordson, who married Paul Nolle at Como's Conservatory at a midnight ceremony. Bordson told the newspaper, "To know we got married and were kind of the official first wedding in the capital city, where all this political action happened, it's insane. It's insane. It is just super fun to know that we're part of history, and we're really hoping that we represented the hundreds of other people who are getting married tonight and during the day tomorrow."
The pre-dawn ceremonies were a closing chapter in a long-simmering political battle in Minnesota and nationwide over same-sex marriages. After months of emotional debate, the Legislature in May approved a bill that legalized gay marriage, effective Aug. 1. It was promptly signed by Gov. Mark Dayton. Minnesota became the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
For many in Minnesota, it was not a day to celebrate. “We are grieving because we understand that Minnesota’s families, children, and religious liberty rights will all pay the price for the decision made by a group of legislators to force a gender-neutral society on our state,” Autumn Leva, spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage, which led opposition to same-sex marriage, told the Star Tribune.
Opponents of the new Minnesota law say they will focus on the 2014 election campaign and the state House campaigns, the Associated Press reports.
Many, especially outside the state's urban center, are still shocked by the whole idea, NPR reported. NPR quoted Owatonna teacher Dean Walters: "Away from the cities, you're going to see a lot of legislators voted out. People in rural areas are unhappy."
Opponents of same-sex marriage in the state say they are more sad than bitter, noting that the law signals a deteriorating society, the Star Tribune reported.
State officials estimate that up to 5,000 same-sex couples will wed during the law's first year.