HALLOWELL — Together 27 years, Brian Kaufman and Martin Swinger had spent the last three weeks planning their wedding.

A chocolate cake topped with a single red rose and two grooms, champagne for toasts and a reception menu of turkey, stuffing, meatballs and potluck. They cleaned the house and did the flowers.

Then Kaufman, 55, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Maine at Farmington, and Swinger, 57, a host and waiter at Slates Restaurant in Hallowell, as well as a musician and performer, went to Augusta City Center Saturday morning to register their intention to wed.

It was the first day they could do so.

They, like several other couples in central Maine, wanted to be among the first same-sex couples to marry.

A law permitting issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples took effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and city officials in Gardiner, Hallowell and Augusta took the unusual step of opening in the morning to make the applications available to people eager to wed. Clerks also handled other municipal business, such as issuing dog licenses or registering motor vehicles.

Three same-sex couples registered their intentions in Augusta and one couple each in Hallowell and Gardiner.

In Augusta, Kaufman carried an orange folder to keep track of their documents.
“I do. I will,” he practiced saying as they stood at the counter at City Center.

A bouquet of pink roses lay across one of the clerk’s stations. It was a gift from the first couple who came in Saturday to register their intent to marry.

“Marriage equality has been offered and taken away so many times we finally decided we’d better seize the moment,” Kaufman and Swinger wrote in their wedding announcement. “It’s been yanked away so many times, we just said do it,” Swinger added at City Center as they filled in surnames, birth places, etc.

Then they and dozens of their friends — invited via Facebook because of the tight timing — gathered for their  4 p.m. wedding at Slates.

Wearing capes made from red and gold Christmas tree skirts, and singing the show tune “Stuck on You” a cappella for their vows, they were pronounced husband and husband by Hallowell Mayor Charlotte Warren.

Swinger wiped tears from his eyes and Kaufman’s grin widened. There were cheers, hurrahs, hugs and kisses of congratulations.

“Thank you for coming to my wedding,” Kaufman said to the crowd.

Betsy McPhedran, who has worked at Slates for more than two decades, said theirs was the restaurant’s first wedding.

A post-ceremony reception was ready at the grooms’ home in Augusta, with a honeymoon trip planned later to Norfolk, Va., where they met in 1985.

“We wanted to be elegant but not totally traditional because this is our first time being able to be married,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman wore the same cape while participating in a weather-abbreviated holiday parade in Hallowell Dec. 8, the night he proposed.

The men are still waiting for their specially ordered rings to be crafted from fossilized dinosaur bone, meteorite and tungsten.

They and had registered in Maine as domestic partners in 1996 and four years later had a civil union ceremony at a town office in Vermont.

“Our hoping now is to be just one more example of how same-sex marriage will do nothing to harm the sanctity or endurance of ‘more traditional’ marriages — even as nontraditional as ours has been,” they said in their announcement.

Earlier in the day, in Gardiner, Sebastien and Lance Wallace promised to be each other’s “one true partner” in a brief marriage ceremony in City Council chambers.

They were dressed in matching white shirts over black V-neck T-shirts and dark trousers, a more casual look than at their 2009 civil union ceremony in Old Orchard Beach, where the grooms sported tuxedos by the ocean and lots of friends and family  joined them.

Saturday’s ceremony carried more weight legally and the Wallaces couldn’t wait any longer.

“This finally made it official and legal,” said Lance Wallace.

The Wallaces, both 29, were wed by Kathleen Cutler, tax collector and deputy treasurer.

After the ceremony, Cutler had the witnesses — Lance’s mother and Sebastien’s dad — sign the marriage certificate, and shortly afterward presented the Wallaces with their official State of Maine certificate of marriage.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]