”We thought you were protesters when we first saw the signs!” Rouch told the UFCW members, to which the group’s Mary Charlton teased, ”The pink poster board should have been a giveaway.”
”Marriage equality is a personal issue to me, as a member of the LGBT community,” Charlton later told Metro Weekly. ”Professionally, as a member of the labor movement, it’s up to me to support all progressive causes, including marriage equality.”
One woman, who did not give her name, walked by the UFCW demonstrators, telling them she had married her partner in Massachusetts, but that Maryland would not recognize her marriage prior to the passage of Question 6, the ballot measure that affirmed and upheld the Civil Marriage Protection Act that granted marriage rights to same-sex couples. Now, the woman said, the state will recognize her marriage.
”Congratulations!” the demonstrators yelled as the woman rounded the corner out of sight.
”We’re having so much fun today,” said UFCW employee Jay Pascucci, who came dressed in wedding attire, right down to his black bowtie, in honor of the same-sex marriages. ”It’s a really great day.”
Nic Ruley, 34, of Chicago, who was getting married to his partner of eight years, Brett King, was so excited that he bounded over to the UFCW group and began warmly hugging the well-wishers. The couple, who met in Montgomery County, where King, 31, is from originally, told Metro Weekly they decided to get married in Maryland because it was where they met and because they were visiting King’s family and friends.
”I told people I’m getting ‘Kinged’ today,” Ruley said.
Ruley also said he hoped that Illinois would also legalize same-sex marriage so their relationship could be recognized where they live.
”I think it will happen in Illinois. We can say to our friends that we did it first,” he joked. ”Not that I’m competitive or anything.”
Inside the courthouse, after receiving nine copies of their marriage license, complete with name changes – to prove they are married for various tax and legal purposes – the grooms, the ”King Ruleys,” entered a bare wooden room filled with pews where marriages are typically performed.
”It feels like a funeral parlor,” Ruley joked, as he set down a blue stuffed Dr. Suess-looking fish in the front row.
”He’s our ringbearer,” King said, playing straight man to Ruley. ”Our child.”
The two recited their vows and gave each other messages of love and encouragement during the ceremony. As they finished, they kissed and hugged each other, with Ruley yelling out ”We won!” and telling King, ”We did good.”
The newlyweds embraced once more, took a deep breath, and then lifted up their tuxedo vests and did a belly bump.