Anyone who reads this article and still thinks same-sex couples shouldn't be allowed to marry is an asshole, pure and simple. There's so much joy in this article that to deny anyone this happiness is criminal.

Emotions run high as gay couples say, 'I do'
Hugs, cheers and tears at City Hall ceremonies

Rona Marech, Chronicle Staff Writer

Toni Broaddus and Janice Wells had their parents listening in on cell phones. Leonardo Montenegro cried. John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney kissed for second after second after second, as friends, supporters, politicians and journalists swirled around them.

They came in wedding dresses and tiaras, in suits and ties, in sneakers and baseball caps. Some had made plans, others left work in a rush when the call came at midday: Get to City Hall. Now.

However they arrived, few of the scores of gay couples who wed Thursday in San Francisco seemed to have any doubt that getting married here, under the glare of television cameras, was the right thing to do.

"It's a personal moment and an incredible historic event. It's hard to describe how that feels," said Broaddus, who has been with Wells for 11 years. "We've been together so long and have known we wanted to spend our lives together. To actually do it is incredibly profound and wonderful."

Two hours later, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, married them on the steps of City Hall, and in the eyes of the city they are legal spouses.

"It felt like it was too big for words," Broaddus said. "It's too big. It's really big."

By 1 p.m., the line at the clerk's office for applications was out the door and down a long hallway. When they got their licenses, the couples found that the words "bride" and "groom" had been changed to "first applicant" and "second applicant."

People hugged and cheered and wept as they talked about what was happening.

"I'm very happy," said Bruce Janis, 47, crying and laughing at once as he waited to marry 32-year-old Somsak Bauood. "I've been around long enough to have had my head beat up by police just for being gay. To be here today to get married ..." He choked back more tears.

"I'm getting old and sentimental," Janis said. "I don't cry like this normally."

Down the hall, marriages were being performed on the front steps, in the atrium, and in every available pocket of space.

Former Supervisor Leslie Katz, who had been deputized to perform marriages, presided over the ceremony for Andrew Nance, 38, and Jim Maloney, 42.

"I know how committed you are and the love you share. You serve as a model for so many of us," said Katz, who went to college with Maloney. They said, "I do," and she declared them "spouses for life."

"It reminds me how important rituals are in our lives," Maloney said afterward, standing beside his new husband, who he met at a San Francisco cafe 14 years ago. "As gay men, we've been denied these rituals. I thought it would be political, but it was quite emotional. I feel a greater connection to Andrew than I felt before. It created an additional bond."

While waiting for the marriage license to be processed, the rush of calls to parents and siblings and friends began.

"I'm glowing. I'm glowing," Nance said. "It's very moving to say you love someone deeply enough to say you'll spend the rest of your life with them."

Maloney said: "I really didn't expect to feel different afterward, but it was a very powerful experience. I'm kind of giddy."

"Spouse for life." I like the sound of that. Hey Amy, if we ever decide to get married, how's about we use that terminology instead of "husband and wife?"

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