Bordson and Nolle, both 35, were certain last October that same-sex marriage would be prevented by a proposed constitutional amendment.
With their parents, daughter Anna, and siblings, the two grooms processed down the garden pathway promptly at midnight. Friends filled the paths of a garden in full summer bloom. Officiant Heather Fairbanks, performing the first of five services in 24 hours, spoke of the sacrifices activists had made over the years to arrive at this moment.
“Legal marriage has long been termed a civil right,” Fairbanks said. She said the grooms wanted to thank all those who worked for gay rights, “not only for their family, but for generations to come.”
The two men exchanged Irish wedding rings to go with commitment rings they exchanged at a non-binding ceremony 10 years ago this week. They will wear the wedding bands on the left hands and the commitment rings on the right.
The men responded to Fairbanks’ vows of lifelong commitment with a hearty “I do,” and involved a somewhat tired but placid Anna in the ceremony. When Fairbanks pronounced the men legally married, and they sealed it with a kiss, the room burst into a lengthy ovation.
Bordson, Nolle and Anna — who will all carry the name Bordson-Nolle — danced to the recessional song, “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers. The group moved to a private reception and a Betty Crocker cake that bore a black bow tie around the middle layer and flowers, not two grooms, on top.
“We are just overjoyed,” said Bordson’s mother, Debby Bordson of Duluth. “I’ve been crying all day. Just full of joy. ... This state believes in the rights of people to marry who they want to. That’s what makes me so proud to be from Minnesota.”
“We’re pretty numbed and thrilled right now,” Bordson said. “We didn’t know if this day would ever be coming in Minnesota.”
The wedding was the first of 13 scheduled in the city on Thursday — including one heterosexual couple who had picked the day and the same sunken garden venue long ago.
Last year, they were resigned to living in a state where same-sex marriage was prohibited, as it is in Wisconsin. But the election result and legislative action changed all that. “To think that within a year it turned around, and it actually didn’t get banned, but became legal, we were just kind of shocked,” Bordson said.
Going to the Chapel
Over at Mall of America, Holli Bartelt and Amy Petrich wed at the mall’s Chapel of Love.
Chapel owner Felicia Glass-Wilcox said she thought couples like Bartelt and Petrich should feel as welcome as any other couple.
“We are in the business of love and this should be a celebration,” she said.
But Glass-Wilcox was taking precautions. After getting a nasty call from a gay marriage opponent, she opted to have a security detail on hand for the midnight nuptials.
Glass-Wilcox said she’s opening her doors at that hour because she wanted same-sex couples to have an option other than a city hall or government building.
“It was important that everybody knew there was an avenue to get a Christian marriage,” she said, “and that not all ministers are against this.”