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Congratulations to Maine
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 12/29/12
Last updated on: 12/29/12
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Mike Snell (left) and Steven Bridges, Maine's first married gay couple as seen in the Bangor Daily News.

The first same-sex weddings in Maine took place shortly after midnight on the morning of December 29, 2012. Several of the state's municipalities, including Portland, opened offices early so that eager couples could marry at the earliest possible moment following the referendum that was approved in November legalizing same-sex marriage. In Portland, the first same-sex couple to be married, Steven Bridges and Michael Snell, took their vows in a brief ceremony in the city clerk's office at approximately 12:25 a.m.

As Abigail Curtis and Seth Koenig report in the Bangor Daily News, Snell and Bridges, both of Portland, have been together for nine years and had a commitment ceremony six years ago, but late Friday night they were more than ready to make their love legal. The couple was the first in line to be married beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday in one of the state's first legal same-sex marriage ceremonies.

A multitude of news cameras surrounded the couple as they entered the clerk's office at 12:01 a.m., filled out paperwork and waited for that paperwork to be entered into the city computer system.

Chris Horne, vital records clerk for the city of Portland, officiated the brief ceremony, in which each man told her, "I do" in the traditional wedding format.

Following the ceremony, Bridges said, ""We finally feel equal and happy to live in Maine."

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan arrived at City Hall just before the doors opened to the public at 10 p.m. He said he hoped he could sign on as a witness for one of the first same-sex couples to marry.

"It's a historic event," he said. "It's something people have waited for for years. People have been discriminated against for years, so we wanted to make sure that we'd be able to accommodate people as soon as possible."

"Portland has always been a leader in opposing discrimination," Brennan said.

Smiles, flowers, and appreciation for the 53 percent of Maine voters who approved the same-sex marriage law on Election Day seemed to rule the night at City Hall, where the air was filled with the sounds of a live jazz trio and a buzz of excitement.

A lonely picketer who refused to give his name spouted biblical verses and called same-sex marriages "abominations." But his presence did little to quell the crowd's enthusiasm.

Among the dozen or so couples who received their marriage licenses in Portland in the early hours of December 29 was Roberta Batt, 71, and Mary Donaldson, 63. The antique dealers have been together for more than 30 years.

"It feels really great," Donaldson said. "I'd like to thank all the people in Maine who voted to make this happen. It's been a long struggle."

Kristina Skillin, her friend Chelsea Doyle, and boyfriend Eric Sawyer were on hand at a table handing out carnation boutonnieres on the second floor of City Hall. Skillin said they started making the boutonnieres on Wednesday and finished with between 400 and 450.

"I really wanted to do something," Skillin, who bought the flowers from her father's business, Skillins Greenhouses, told the BDN on Friday night. "I really wanted to hug everyone."

Sawyer, a notary public, was offering his services performing marriage ceremonies to any couple who was interested Saturday morning.

"It would be such an honor to be able to do that for a couple," he said.

The video below contrasts the reactions to the defeat of a marriage equality referendum in 2009 with the victory in 2012.

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