Listen: Couples celebrate legal same-sex marriage in Minn. in midnight marriage ceremonies

MPR’s Sasha Aslanian reports on the first legally wed same-sex marriages performed just after midnight on August 1st, 2013. Report includes clips and interviews from ceremonies at Minneapolis City Hall.

Thursday's first-ever same-sex weddings capped an extraordinary seven months in Minnesota that began in November when Minnesotans rejected a plan to write the state's 40-year gay marriage ban into the Minnesota constitution. That vote's political momentum helped remake the Legislature, which in May changed the law, making Minnesota the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage.


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CATHY WURZER: 6:45 here on Minnesota Public Radio News. I'm Cathy Wurzer. Well, there are no doubt some bleary-eyed same-sex couples in Minnesota still feeling that marriage glow right now. The first same-sex marriages took place, with couples making their wedding vows shortly after midnight when the new law legalizing such marriages took effect. The marble steps inside Minneapolis City Hall were the site of 42 weddings performed by Mayor R.T. Rybak, and 21 more couples were wed in city council chambers by Hennepin County judges and other public officials. Sasha Aslanian has our story.

MARGARET MILES: I, Margaret, take you, Cathy, to be my lawfully wedded wife.

SASHA ASLANIAN: Margaret Miles and Cathy Pembrook of Minneapolis said those words a hair before midnight, and the mayor had to stretch his part a bit to make sure the marriage pronouncement came after midnight.

SPEAKER 1: By the power now finally vested in me--


By the laws of the people of Minnesota, we do hereby declare that Margaret and Cathy are legally married.


You may kiss the bride.

SASHA ASLANIAN: The two women kissed, and their five-year-old son Louis hugged his moms. The rotunda was filled to four levels with waiting couples, family, friends, musicians, and media. Governor Mark Dayton greeted the crowd early in the night and offered his congratulations to all the couples about to wed. He thanked lawmakers and the people of Minnesota for making it possible.

MARK DAYTON: And the real credit belongs to all of your parents, grandparents, who said, that's my daughter, that's my grandson that you're vilifying, that you're demonizing. It's not what they're doing that's wrong. It's what you're doing that's wrong. You hatemongers, we're not going to stand for it, and here in Minnesota, we're better than that in Minnesota, and we proved that over the last year.

SASHA ASLANIAN: Last year, Minnesota voters defeated a constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage. In May, the legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill the governor signed, making Minnesota the 12th state to legalize gay marriage. Waiting their turn to descend the staircase to be married by the mayor were Juan Carlos Alanis and Rosibel Garza.

JUAN CARLOS ALANIS: We're happy to be able to call each other husbands. It's a new stage for us, a new history. We have been friends. We have been lovers, partners. Now we're going to be husbands.

ROSIBEL GARZA: And tomorrow we're going to start a new life together here in Minnesota, and I feel so happy.

SASHA ASLANIAN: Laura Migliorino and Mary Bonneman carried matching rainbow bouquets for their wedding in the city council chambers. Migliorino says the wedding changed something important.

LAURA MIGLIORINO: For me, I just feel a certain amount of anxiety is gone. I mean, I think that we probably weren't even aware of how much anxiety we always lived with. Like, we felt we'd be OK if something happened, but it was always kind of like, well, maybe the doctor will be OK, and but we are always sort of at the mercy of everybody.

SASHA ASLANIAN: The women said they were touched by how excited everybody was for them, especially their straight friends. Lynn Larsen of Minneapolis says she never expected to be able to marry her partner, Linda Alton, in her lifetime. After the marriage law passed, the 75-year-old Larsen posted a singing invitation to her wedding on YouTube. She sang this snippet on the sidewalk outside city hall.

LYNN LARSEN: (SINGING) Minnesota, Minnesota, we have passed the marriage bill

And we are going to marry and celebrate, we will

And you all can come and join us August 2nd, yep, that's right.

We're going to have a party, it'll go into the night.

SASHA ASLANIAN: Larsen and Alton wore white pants and the same colorful blouses for the occasion. Alton explained the matching outfits were an accident. They picked out the same thing at the store.

LINDA ALTON: So we said, our family's going to die. Our daughters are going to just cringe and crawl into the closet.

LYNN LARSEN: But the daughters did say, that's what old lady's wear, and we said, that's what we are. We're all ladies.

LINDA ALTON: Yeah. I mean, yeah.

SASHA ASLANIAN: Daughters Christine and Kay Alton stood by, grinning their approval. The outfits were forgiven. They were pleased their moms' 24 year relationship was now officially recognized by the state of Minnesota.

CHRISTINE ALTON: It's pretty spectacular. Definitely an emotional day.

KAY ALTON: I always said I would never get married until my mom could, and now she has.

SASHA ASLANIAN: For those who got married in today's festivities, they now have an easy to remember anniversary, August 1st, the day same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota. Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota, Public Radio News, Minneapolis.

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