Bruce Carlson and Matt Friday waited 28 years to call each other "husband" and "husband."
Monday afternoon, they were among the first in Oregon to do so legally as they married surrounded by friends, family and strangers at a communal wedding and celebration at The Davis Restaurant & Bar in downtown Eugene.
"We've always had a place in each other's hearts," said Friday, 63. "Now we have a place in our community."
Two by two, some in work uniforms and some in blue jeans, same-sex couples of all ages filed into the restaurant to celebrate, make history and marry.
Carlson and Friday, who both wore Hawaiian shirts, said they always imagined their wedding would be a quiet and small celebration.
Instead, they were first in line to apply for their marriage license when they arrived at the Lane County clerk's office in downtown Eugene at 9:30 a.m. Monday, and obtained their license shortly after 1 p.m. They then were welcomed into The Davis with cheers and whistles from an expectant crowd of marriage equality advocates.
"Coming in and having everybody clapping, it almost got me to cry," said Carlson, 72.
The two were married by Rev. Warren Light, a United Methodist pastor who directs the Wesley Center near the University of Oregon and also serves the Halsey United Methodist Church in Halsey.
"Marriage is different than other relationships," said Light during the ceremony. "It creates kinship; it celebrates intimacy. It ties a lifelong knot of joy...No human ties are more important or more tender."
Eight different officiants participated in the day's ceremonies, including a Circuit Court judge, a rabbi and a handful of Christian pastors.
Carlson and Friday's great-nephew, Jason Ortega, was best man for their ceremony.
"I've always supported their relationship," said Ortega, 27, who grew up visiting his great-uncles. "It was wonderful to see them relax and say, 'Finally, we can do this just like everyone else.'"
The event included 16 weddings and one renewal of vows, with about 150 witnesses and volunteers cheering on newlyweds and celebrating the legal victory.
Like every couple throughout the day at the restaurant, Carlson and Friday received a pair of roses at the end of their ceremony.
The day's festivities were organized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, which helped bring the lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The Davis donated space for the ceremonies, and Sweet Life Patisserie donated a cake.
"I jumped at the chance to do this," said Tom Kamis, owner of The Davis. "I just wanted to have all these happy people down here and make sure that there was a home for this to happen in a very positive way."
Harriet Merrick, a longtime same-sex marriage advocate and ACLU of Oregon board member, said she could hardly believe that the day of marriage equality had arrived.
"You hope for something like this, but to be able to see it in your lifetime is pretty amazing," she said.
"Change doesn't happen overnight, but that's OK," she said, noting that the decades-long process may have been needed to gain sufficient public support for same-sex marriage. "This victory today, it's been hundreds of small steps."
One couple, Erica Ciszek and Christina Raymond, brought their 5-month-old daughter, Quinn, along to their marriage ceremony.
The two have been together for six years and had a more traditional wedding ceremony in 2011, but were thrilled to be married Monday in the state where Quinn was born.
"It helps us to tell the story to her of her family coming together," said Ciszek, holding her daughter while her wife completed their marriage paperwork. "It's a really great chapter to be able to add to our story."
As the couple prepares to move to Texas this summer, they know their marriage may not be accepted in the same way in other states, Ciszek said. "It points to the realities that exist around the country," she said. "There's still work to be done."
Though many couples at the restaurant had waited decades to say their vows, one college-age couple took advantage of the opportunity to start their married life right away.
Anna Horsfall, 21, and Lora Osborn, 19, decided to marry spontaneously on Monday -- in between Osborn's morning work shift and Horsfall's evening one.
The pair, who met in gym class at Willamette High School, had vowed they would marry as soon as it became legal in Oregon -- but never expected the day to come so soon. "I know that there are people who have been waiting much longer to be able to spend their lives married to each other," Horsfall said in tears.
Looking forward to spending the rest of her life with Osborn, Horsfall said she is grateful for the chance to say, "I am married to this person not only in my heart, but legally."
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