Hundreds crowd outside Portland City Hall to wish well to same-sex couples

Mea Tavares and Devyn Packard embrace in front of Portland City Hall early Saturday morning after Portland issued one of Maine's first same-sex marriage certificates.
Mea Tavares and Devyn Packard embrace in front of Portland City Hall early Saturday morning after Portland issued one of Maine's first same-sex marriage certificates. Buy Photo
Posted Dec. 29, 2012, at 12:49 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 29, 2012, at 1:59 a.m.
 Hundreds stood outside Portland City Hall as gay couples were married early Saturday morning in Portland.
Hundreds stood outside Portland City Hall as gay couples were married early Saturday morning in Portland. Buy Photo
Hundreds stood outside Portland City Hall as gay couples were married early Saturday morning in Portland.
Hundreds stood outside Portland City Hall as gay couples were married early Saturday morning in Portland. Buy Photo
Well-wishers gather outside Portland City Hall to celebrate the first same-sex marriages in Maine.
Well-wishers gather outside Portland City Hall to celebrate the first same-sex marriages in Maine.

A joyful crowd of hundreds erupted into cheers early Saturday morning when the state’s first same-sex married couple exited Portland City Hall.

“We worked for this!” one woman shouted just before Michael Snell and Steven Bridges emerged into the cold night air and shared a brief kiss on the steps before heading home.

They looked happy and a little overwhelmed by the size and exuberance of the people in the plaza. Some blew bubbles, some tossed flowers and some held posters aloft hand-lettered with slogans such as “America’s new day begins in Maine.” A man played the opening notes of “All You Need is Love” on a trombone and the refrain was quickly picked up by the crowd.

“Love is all you need!” they sang loudly.

Valerie Wisch of Portland said that when she came out years ago she never imagined that she’d ever witness this day.

“I’m totally amazed and happy, and I feel like I’m on another planet,” she said. “It just shows you how many people wanted this to happen. It’s about time. We’re ready, and it’s time for the rest of the country and the rest of the world to be ready.”

Molly Bernier, 14, of Yarmouth, was among the people bundled up against the below-freezing temperatures. She said that it felt like history was being made in front of her.

“I just want to support everybody,” she said. “I wanted to witness this important event. I’m very proud of Maine for doing this.”

Philomina Haley of Brunswick, 24, said that she was supporting a friend who was getting married inside but also felt that she needed to be among the crowd.

“It’s a really good day to be out here,” she said. “It’s a very monumental and big day.”

Earlier in the night, a man stood across the plaza singing gospel songs and calling out religious scriptures in protest of the occasion. The man, who refused to give his name, called same-sex marriages “abominations” and “wickedness,” and said that by allowing them, Mainers are “turning our backs on God’s commandments.”

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