Updated at 9:22 Sunday, June 28 with confirmed number of participants.
The St. Louis City Hall Rotunda echoed with laughter and cheers Saturday as same-sex couples were legally married. The ceremony took place just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.
Monica Rea and Pam Graklanoff were one of twelve couples who exchanged wedding vows.
“We’ve had our rings for months but I said I’d really like to wait for the Supreme Court so we don’t end up like San Francisco—you’re married today, no you’re not tomorrow. We’ll get married regardless but it would be nice to know that it’s actually legal wherever we go now,” said Graklanoff, who turned 69 yesterday.
She spent her birthday getting her marriage license in Clayton with Rea after the Supreme Court ruling came down.
“We got all teared up yesterday. You get tired of being thought of as a second-class citizen or a sinner or a freak and their attitudes need to be changed, not ours. I am what I was made to be,” Graklanoff said.
Rea and Graklanoff had their first date during Pride St. Louis 12 years ago, and now have come full-circle to be part of the first legal ceremonies to ever take place during the festival.
“They can’t take (our marriage) away now so that’s an amazing thing,” said Rea, 50. “We’re here and they can’t take that away.”
Richard Hooper, 30, and Raymond Lindsey, 35, drove three hours north from Hayti, Mo. to get married at Pride. Waiting in line to check-in for the ceremony, Hooper said he was feeling nervous.
“I’m actually getting married and it’s going to be legal. But it will be okay because I’m here with the one I love,” Hooper said, adding that he was unsure how people back in Hayti will respond to their marriage.
“Hayti’s kinda, I don’t know—Redneck, so everyone’s looking around at us like woah!” said Hooper. “I think we’re actually going to be the first publicly married gay couple in Hayti. Somebody’s gotta do it to make it okay for everybody else.”
Last June St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay married four same-sex couples in opposition to the state’s ban against gay marriage, and St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last November following favorable state and federal court rulings in those districts.
Pride St. Louis was already planning to take advantage of the marriage licenses being issued in St. Louis to hold the first ever legal marriages during the festival Saturday, but Friday’s Supreme Court ruling gave the ceremony extra significance by officially lifted Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Three pastors from Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis married the couples Saturday at city hall. They also led about a dozen couples in a commitment ceremony.
Rev. Lillie Brock said Metropolitan Community churches have been performing same-sex marriages since the denomination was founded in 1968.
“So this is not a new idea for us to give people who love one another the opportunity to bind themselves together in marriage. For us though it’s a huge victory for that to also not just be something that God will bless but that now the state and the country blesses,” Brock said.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille