Same-sex couples marry; ‘seems almost unreal’

Newly married couple Roberta and Linda embrace after their marriage ceremony (March 22, 2014).

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The first same-sex marriage license in West Michigan was issued in Muskegon Saturday morning, after a historic decision by a federal judge in which the state’s ban on gay marriage was ruled unconstitutional.

Around 9:30 a.m., the first same-sex marriage ceremony was performed at Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Muskegon and around 65 marriage licenses were issued.

Jere Clausen and Bruce Walters were the first couple to be married legally in West Michigan. They have been in a relationship for 14 years.

“The love we have for each other is all I could see on his face and what I felt in my heart,” said Walters.

“To be able to profess my love for Bruce in front of my loved ones and to feel the difference of being together and things like that but now to have before God professed that and swore that, it’s great,” said Clausen.

On Friday, Rev. Bill Freeman of Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation said he would begin to perform the ceremonies Saturday morning. In a written statement, he wrote, “I’m ready to perform as many same-sex weddings as is humanly possible,” and wrote that same-sex couples wishing to get married could call him for information on ceremonies.

Originally, the services were slated to begin at 11 a.m., but the fear of the possibility of a stay from the government caused Freeman to move up the ceremonies.

The first same-sex female couple to be married was Roberta and Linda. They started their relationship about a year and a half ago.

“It’s almost like this was unreal, it seems almost unreal for us to be getting married and getting married in a church,” said Roberta.

Reverend Bill Freeman told 24 Hour News 8 that he was prepared to see protesters at the ceremonies. No one against same-sex marriage showed up to the weddings at the church.

As the day progressed, the Reverend began conducting group ceremonies to make sure everyone would be able to get married before the stay was issued by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

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