MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gay couples began tying the knot at Minneapolis City Hall early Thursday and preparing to do so once town clerks' offices opened in Rhode Island, as the two states became the latest to allow same-sex marriage.
The Minnesota law allowed weddings to begin just after midnight Wednesday, and 42 couples were to be married by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and several Hennepin County judges in the hours before dawn.
"I didn't expect to cry quite that hard," said a beaming Cathy ten Broeke, who with Margaret Miles was the first gay couple to be wed at City Hall.
The attending crowd burst into applause as Rybak pronounced Miles and ten Broeke married. The couple stood nearby embracing their 5-year-old son, Louie.
"We do," all three said to more cheers as they promised to be a family.
Meanwhile, town clerks were to begin issuing Rhode Island's first marriage licenses to same-sex couples later Thursday morning. While states such as Massachusetts and California saw long lines and scores of weddings on the day gay marriages began, Rhode Island officials were predicting a relatively calm day, as their state was the last in New England to legalize same-sex marriage.
Rhode Island and Minnesota became the 12th and 13th states to allow gay marriage, along with Washington, D.C. The national gay rights group Freedom to Marry estimates that about 30 percent of the U.S. population now lives in places where gay marriage is legal.
In Minnesota, budget officials estimated that about 5,000 gay couples would marry in the first year. Its enactment capped a fast turnabout on the issue in just over two years. After voters rejected a constitutional ban on gay marriage last fall, the state Legislature this spring moved to make it legal.
"I don't think either of us ever thought we'd see this day," said Mike Bolin, of the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield, who was marrying Jay Resch, his partner of six years, at Minneapolis City Hall.