ALAMEDA -- Two same-sex couples renewed their vows Saturday with Mayor Marie Gilmore officiating. While it wasn't the city's first same-sex ceremony, those involved found it special.
"It was such a nice event," Gilmore said. "I hope that anyone hoping to get married or renew their vows will consider City Hall as an option. We're trying to make it really friendly."
The couples -- Tom Squire and Mark Sorensen and Susan Timney and Lynda Kretlow -- each have been together for about 20 years and have been married for five years.
"There are a lot of coincidences," Timney said.
"We are glad that city officials really to want to encourage and support these events," said Sorensen, an Alameda resident, executive director of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce and president of Alameda Meals on Wheels. "It's also nice to be honored as community members who ... care about being active."
"The mayor very proudly led the ceremony, and then we went to Mark's home to celebrate," said Timney, who grew up in Alameda, is a past exalted ruler of the Alameda Elks Lodge and co-owns High Street Station with Kretlow. "We really want to thank Mayor Gilmore, City Councilmember Tony Daysog, along with the interim police Chief Paul Rolleri and others who came to show their support."
Though both couples were married five years, it wasn't until this summer -- when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, was unconstitutional -- that they knew their relationships were finally set in stone.
"First, the marriages were legal, and then the situation was up and down," Kretlow said. "It's very good to have it solid now. There's no going back."
"Earlier, it had been a nightmare. We felt like we were half-married," said Squire, an aerospace engineer and longtime Alameda resident. "Now, our marriage is fully recognized."
Since he's a federal employee, Squire said his spouse now has full access to his benefits.
"It's amazing," he said. "I'm very glad to have done such a nice ceremony again, because this is it. The marriage is concrete."
Mayor Gilmore hopes the city can extend the hospitality it shared this weekend with the two same-sex couples with as many partners as possible in the future.
"Our city clerk takes real pride in (hosting these ceremonies), and we are happy to welcome gay and straight couples," she said.
The mayor said she was overwhelmed by emotion this summer, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision, when she said the words before a couple being married, "By the power invested in me by the State of California ...."
"It really got me," Gilmore said. The same-sex couple finally "got to be married. It's what many of us take for granted. It's huge."