The day scores of gay couples have been waiting for is officially here.
Marriage equality laws took effect Thursday in Rhode Island and Minnesota—the twelfth and thirteenth states to allow gay couples to marry, along with the District of Columbia. Both state legislatures legalized marriage equality in May.
“I didn’t expect to cry quite that hard,” said Cathy ten Broeke to the Associated Press after marrying her partner, Margaret Miles, in one of the first weddings Thursday at Minneapolis City Hall. The two exchanged vows and rings just before the stroke of midnight, when their marriage officially became legal. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak pronounced the two married at exactly 12:01 a.m. as the hundreds in attendance burst into applause. The newlyweds, along with their five-year-old son, Louie, shouted “we do” in unison.
Dozens of other gay couples made the midnight dash to city hall, St. Paul’s Como Park, Mall of America’s Chapel of Love, and county courthouses across Minnesota. The state became the second in the Midwest to legalize marriage equality, and the first to do so through legislation. Iowa also allows gay couples to marry thanks to a 2009 state Supreme Court order.
Thursday morning weddings were also scheduled in Rhode Island, though the celebration there is expected to be slightly more subdued. Rhode Island was the last of the New England states to legalize marriage equality, so gay couples there have had the option to marry in nearby states for quite some time. Both Minnesota and Rhode Island now officially recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
To mark what Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed to be “Freedom to Marry Day,” famed baking company Betty Crocker, which is owned by the Minnesota-based General Mills Inc., donated wedding cakes to some of the happy couples. The Minnesota House Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Caucus also pitched in with the celebration, releasing a video compilation of the memorable floor speeches from the historic day marriage equality passed the state House:
And here’s how Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison marked the day…in song!