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(NECN: Marnie MacLean) – Same-sex marriage is now legal in Maine. The new law went into effect at midnight on Saturday.
Portland's City Hall opened up for special hours, and as the clock struck 12, the first couple in line made history.
Steven Bridges and Michael Snell didn't plan on being the first same-sex couple in Maine to be married under the new law, but when they got to Portland City Hall, they discovered they were at the head of the line.
They've been together for nine years and had a commitment ceremony six years ago. Now, the chance to be legally married in Maine marks an important next step.
"To show the love, to show we are equal, no better, no greater, no worse,” Bridges said.
More than a dozen couples waited in line outside the city clerk's office.
"I really want to be married, so it means a lot,” said Joan Kunian.
Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said the city chose to open up for special hours because of the historic occasion and to show support for marriage equality.
"People have been discriminated against for years,” Brennan said. “We thought they shouldn't have to wait any longer."
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut all have same-sex marriage already, but Maine is the first New England state where it was passed by popular vote.
"I think it's super important to show progress, and I hope that progress continues through the rest of the country,” said Byron Bartlett.
Steven and Michael both worked on the campaign to get the same-sex marriage law passed in
Maine. They were afraid to hope this day would ever come.
They filled out their forms, and while the i's were dotted and the t's were crossed, they shared some time with Michael's daughters.
Finally, their moment arrived.
They've done this part before, but this time, for the first time, their marriage is legal.
Steven and Michael were met with cheers from the other couples waiting in the hallway and then an even bigger surprise: Hundreds gathered outside City Hall, a crowd of well-wishers eager to congratulate the couple who made history in Maine -- a role they didn't expect, but were willing to embrace.