'History won't lose me': First same-sex marriages made in South Portland

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Robin Elliott and Laura Minervino waited for about 10 minutes for City Hall to open last Saturday morning.

That was nothing compared to the 23 years they waited for a marriage license.

Elliott and Minervino were the first same-sex couple in the city to get a marriage license Dec. 29 when City Clerk Susan Mooney opened her office at 8 a.m. the first day same-sex marriages became legal in Maine.

Mooney opened the office with Assistant Clerk Karen Morrill and Licensing Administrator Jessica Hanscombe eight hours after municipal officers in Portland and Falmouth began accepting license applications and performing marriages. Town offices in Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough did not offer special hours.

Elliot said the couple had not made it a goal to be first in line. But being in line was what counted, even though they will not be married until a Jan. 6 ceremony at the Victoria Mansion in Portland.

Elliott and Minervino were soon followed by city residents Cynthia Sortwell and Jessie Cash, who became the first same-sex couple married by Mooney. Within an hour, Angela Blier and Melissa Rheaume had also tied the knot in a civil ceremony.

“It was kind of the like the first marriage I performed,” said Mooney, who brought five small cakes to  help the couples celebrate.

Mooney said the office issued nine licenses Saturday morning and she performed three weddings. On Monday, Mooney said she married two more couples.

As they looked over the forms, Elliott and Minervino grinned at an opportunity that seemed elusive even three years ago, when a law permitting same-sex marriages was repealed in a statewide referendum vote.

“I expected it to pass last time; I was devastated when it didn’t,” Elliott said. “This makes it real and gives us protection. History won’t lose me.”

Smiles abounded as couples and spectators arrived, even as Minervino chided Elliott because she paid the entire $40 marriage license fee.

As Blier and Rheaume waited for Mooney to officiate their wedding, Blier noted she could have renewed their dog license, too.

Elliott and Minervino remained for more than 30 minutes after they received their license, watching other couples fill out the forms and pay the fees, and hoping to witness a ceremony.

Elliott said they will also have a larger summer celebration following their Jan. 6 wedding, and then joked about her future with Minervino.

“She knows she’s not getting that $20,” Elliott said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Robin Elliott, left, and Laura Minervino were the first couple to get a marriage license at South Portland City Hall last Saturday. City Clerk Susan Mooney opened the office at 8 a.m. the day same-sex marriage became legal in Maine. By 9 a.m., she had also married two couples, although Elliott and Minervino will wait until a Jan. 6 ceremony in Portland.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.