By midnight a crowd of well-wishers had gathered outside Portland's City Hall. Mayor Michael Brennan offiicially opened the clerk's office at 12:01 am EST on December 29th, the earliest time that same-sex couples could exercise their new right to marry.
Mainers approved same-sex marriage by popular vote in November and Governor Paul LePage signed off on the certified election results on November 29th. The new law went into effect thirty days after the signing, Saturday, December 29th. Mayor Michael Brennan felt that couples had waited long enough for this moment and should have the opportunity to marry right away, even though 12:01AM on a Saturday is outside of usual city operating hours. Brennan said, "I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of community, and how everyone should have the opportunity to be a part of a community. You can't build a community when some part of the community is discriminated against. This removes one other barrier to discrimination and allows us to be a complete community."
The historic occasion made for tight space in the city clerk's office: The press corps included local outlets as well as national media. For an excellent rundown of the evening's events and pickup by press, see Alex Steed's coverage on the Bangor Daily News.
The first couple to receive their license to marry, Steven Bridges and Michael Snell opted to have their ceremony on the spot, wearing matching t-shirts that said, "Love is Love." You can hear the crowd's reaction to their first public appearance in this video produced by Steed's company, Knack Factory in collaboration with Bangor Daily News:
Photographer Arthur Fink documented the scenes inside City Hall, which included laurel head wreaths, a jazz trio, and complementary cupcakes and boutonnieres provided by volunteers:
Jill Duson, Portland City Counselor and manager at the Maine Human Rights Commission reflected the joy in the city clerk's office:
This couple waited thirty years for the right to marry in Maine:
This couple, Katy Jayne and Lauren Snead, didn't have to wait quite as long:
And now, the wait is over—for everyone.
title image: Well-wishers outside of City Hall. Photo by LiveWorkPortland contributor Arthur Fink.