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Years of waiting, just moments to prepare

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County clerk keeps office open late

It was a day that some couples had been anticipating for years, but when it finally arrived, they took just moments to prepare.

“(He said) ‘Do you want to get married today? In 20 minutes?'” said Perry Mackrill of his conversation with partner Tim Condon. “I said I should probably take a shower first.” They made their plans as Condon was driving from his job at the University of New Mexico to the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office.

Not long after, they were part of an impromptu mass wedding ceremony of nine couples in the County Commission chambers. Condon said the license he held in his hands means that he’ll finally be able to share his benefits as a former federal government employee with Mackrill.

Gina Prowse said she “bolted” into her home Friday afternoon and picked up Jacquie Thornton for the trip to the Clerk’s Office. The couple met four years ago in nursing school and had plans to get married in another state – until their car broke down. That was disappointing for the couple, so they leapt at the new opportunity on Friday.

“When it happens, you’re like, ‘Oh, my God! Let’s go,'” Thornton said.

Some couples plan for their big day months in advance, fussing over the minutiae of a wedding cake or what food to serve at the reception. The couples in Friday’s group wedding made do with cupcakes and sparkling grape juice brought from local grocery stores by well-wishers.

Whatever rings the couples were already wearing became the ones they exchanged as they took their vows.

The Senior Rev. Talitha Arnold and the Rev. Brandon Johnson of the United Church of Santa Fe led the newlyweds in their vows, at times recognizing the immediacy of the marriage equality issue in Santa Fe.

“By the power vested in us by the county of Santa Fe – maybe by the state of New Mexico? – we pronounce you partners for life,” Arnold said to a round of applause and laughter.

With a line of couples waiting in the hallway, the Clerk’s Office stayed open late. By the time the office closed at 7 p.m., County Clerk Geraldine Salazar had issued about 50 licenses. She began issuing the licenses at 2 p.m., saying in a news release that she was complying with an order issued late Thursday by state District Judge Sarah Singleton. Salazar said her office will “not continue to use limited county resources on further litigation.”

“Now is the time to right the wrongs for hundreds of years of oppression against the gay community,” Salazar told a Journal reporter after the ceremony.

Todd Crawford and Jimmy Huckaby had been together for 16 years. After what Crawford called a “roller coaster” of a day, Huckaby said he felt validity after the ceremony. When he woke up at 8 a.m. Friday, Crawford said, he wasn’t married to the man he loves. At times, he added, he felt this day would never come.

“I get to go to bed tonight with my husband and be married when I wake up in the morning,” Crawford said.

Just like his married friends, his family and his co-workers, he added.

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