BALTIMORE – Nearly 100 people gathered at Chase Court on Thursday to celebrate Maryland’s same-sex marriage law that took effect on Jan. 1.
“It’s great that we can be on the celebration side of things,” Tony Bowen, member of the Equality Maryland Foundation Board of Directors, said during the event. “It’s great that we can be saying that after Jan. 1, there are plenty of lovely couples that are now married.”
David Egan, owner of Chase Court, noted the former Christ Episcopal Church parish house has hosted commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples since 2004. He became emotional as he referenced the state’s same-sex marriage law.
“We’re very proud at this point to be calling them same-sex marriages,” Egan said. “It’s a thrill for us. It’s important for me personally, to us as a business. And I want to say to so many people in our industry, the wedding industry, who are so thrilled for all kinds of reasons to see this happening.”
Maryland is one of nine states and D.C. that allow same-sex marriage, while neighboring Delaware is among the states expected to debate the issue this year.
Baltimore residents John Kyle and Peter Satten married on Jan. 1 in a small ceremony at the Blue Hill Tavern in the city’s Canton neighborhood — they chose to tie the knot on the first day same-sex couples could legally marry in Maryland, in part, because it was their 23rd anniversary.
“I feel great about it,” Kyle told the Washington Blade when asked about the law taking effect. “I worked hard for it: Fundraising, volunteering, working the polls, lobbying in the legislature. It’s great that we got this right now right here in Maryland.”
Equality Maryland Office Manager Vanessa Bowling and her partner of nearly five years plan to marry in 2014.
“Other than the fact that we love each other and want to spend our lives together, having that legal recognition and being able to take care of our property and our family and everything that the law will allow us to do is very important to us,” she told the Blade.
Bowling conceded she was “in shock” when voters in November approved the state’s same-sex marriage law by a 52-48 percent margin. She said the reality of nuptials for gays and lesbians in Maryland “didn’t really hit me until” the law took effect.
“I saw these pictures of couples and they were getting married — legally,” Bowling said. “That was the first time I cried, from excitement. I know that’s really strange, but I get calls every day, e-mails every day of people who want to know how the law will affect them, what they need to do to make sure their out-of-state license is honored. So it’s surreal to me and it is wonderful to see how many people are trying to get all the information, make sure everything is covered and they’re really excited about their marriages being legal.”