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City, state begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

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Saturday was a day for equality, and to mark the occasion the Portland City Clerk's Office opened its doors at 12 a.m. to issue marriage licenses within the first hours the state's marriage equality law took effect.
Maine was one of three states that voted in favor of same sex marriage in November and the law took effect on Saturday. Portland was one of several communities across the state that opened their offices to issue marriage licenses on Saturday.
The first of the couples that lined the second floor of City Hall was Steven Bridges and Michael Snell.
"For us, it means equality," Snell said, and a recognition that their relationship is the same as heterosexual couples.
Both Bridges and Snell had volunteered with the marriage equality campaigns in the past.
Bridges said everyone thought the first referendum was going to pass but many people didn't vote because they were certain it would be approved.
That was not the case this past November, he said.
Snell said there was a lot of energy around the November election and the marriage equality initiative benefited from that.
While Saturday was a joyous occasion of the couples who picked up their marriage license, it was a historic day for Maine and Portland.
One of the city's goals has been creating an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, according to Mayor Michael Brennan, and having an official recognition of marriage is a big step toward achieving that.
"This is very important for us as a city," he said.
Now, everybody in Maine has the opportunity to get married, said Brennan.
People have been discriminated against for years, said Brennan, and Portland decided to open the clerk's office to issue marriage licenses emphasizes the importance of equality in Maine.
"We felt they shouldn't have to wait any longer," he said.
— Staff Report

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