MINNEAPOLIS - He was tired and hoarse, but Minneapolis Mayor R-T Rybak still wore a smile on his face after uniting dozens of same-sex couples in a ceremony that ushers in a new era in the state of Minnesota.
"I promise next time something big happens I'll keep my big mouth shut," he laughed.
Rybak made a promise immediately after Minnesota legislators legalized same-sex marriage that he would officiate the first ceremony after the clock struck midnight August 1. He kept his word, steering an emotional and historic event as 46 same-sex couples tied the knot.
The ceremony began at midnight and wound up at approximately 6:45 a.m. An estimated 1,000 people packed the City Hall Rotunda.
"Through the night I heard amazing stories of people, some who've just met, some of who've been in relationships for years and years, one who came from Mexico, one from Austin, Texas, most from Minnesota and all of em' are a little more complete citizens today, and it's a big deal."
Two of those people were Cathy Tenbrooke and Margaret Miles, a couple of 15-years who had a commitment ceremony 13 years ago. Although they anticipated that legalized gay marriage would come to Minnesota some day, the enormity of the moment left them emotionally overwhelmed.
"It's an amazingly powerful experience, both because we're here with so many people, friends and family but mostly because we're here with a broader community celebrating this incredible historic moment," Tembrooke told KARE 11 moments before they became the first couple Rybak would marry.
"We believed marriage would come to us, but I don't think we knew it would be married in city hall by the mayor in front of 900 people," Miles added with a laugh.
Across the river in St. Paul, Paul Nolle and Reid Bordson were married just after the stroke of midnight at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Nolle, a native of Green Bay, and Bordson, a native of Duluth, have been together for 13 years. They had a commitment ceremony ten years ago but being legally married opens a brand new chapter in their lives together.
"This is the most beautiful place for a wedding we have ever seen," Bordson said. "It is also thrilling to have been married in the very city, the capital, where all the political action occurred just a few months ago."
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