minnmarriage 300x160 Marriage Starts In Minnesota And Rhode Island!Marriage equality officially began in those states last night at midnight. In Minneapolis, they didn’t waste any time:

The streets outside Minneapolis City Hall were filled with newly-wedded gay and lesbian couples reveling in their new marital status Thursday morning while inside dozens more waited their turn in lines that lasted until dawn.

Down the street at the Hotel Minneapolis, Cathy ten Broeke and Margaret Miles, the first couple legally wed in Minnesota, partied into the night, wearing the same slinky dresses they wore 12 years earlier at their commitment ceremony. This time, ten Broeke said with some satisfaction, was different because this “was the state of Minnesota committing to us and our family.”

Mayor R.T. Rybak worked through the night and early morning hours, officiating the weddings of 42 gay and lesbian couples on the marble steps of the City Hall Rotunda where, at the bottom, the massive Father of Waters statue was surrounded by folding chairs, wedding guests and dozens of clicking cameras.

By 2 a.m. the scene inside and outside remained festive and untroubled. Food trucks lined up as newlyweds and other attendees ordered tacos and omelets or stepped outside for a break from the steamy City Hall air. Jitneys waited to whisk couples away to nearby hotels. Just as with heterosexual weddings, a white stretch limo, “Just Married” flags flapping, parked outside to escort a wedding party.

Food trucks, limos, joy…these are the things that keep Michele Bachmann up at night. If you click the link above, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a great video of the celebrations.

In Rhode Island, the weddings started this morning, where the Newport city clerk referred to today as “a day of smooching.”

Never fear, though. There is no moment too joyful for the Christian Right to attempt to stomp on, and the hate group known as the Alliance Defending Freedom has stepped in to let all the clerks in those states know that it’s perfectly fine to defy the law if the law hurts your deeply held fee fees:

WASHINGTON — Alliance Defending Freedom is advising officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses in Rhode Island and Minnesota that they do not have to violate their faith or conscience by personally issuing licenses to applicants who are of the same sex.

Two new legal memos issued Wednesday in Rhode Island and Minnesota advise officials that they can delegate responsibility for issuing the licenses to deputies or assistants who don’t have conscience-based objections to issuing the licenses to same-sex applicants.

“No American should have to choose between their conscience and their job in America,” said Litigation Counsel Kellie Fiedorek. “The First Amendment protects Americans from being coerced to give up their careers to maintain their religious freedom. Religious freedom is guaranteed to every American, including those issuing marriage licenses.”

Fiedorek explained that the government can respect the faith and conscience of officials while providing no impediment to carrying out the law.

In Rhode Island, for example, the memo states that, in light of the state’s new law “redefining marriage to include same-sex couples,” some county clerks “might believe that they face a serious dilemma: either resign their positions or violate their sincerely held religious or moral beliefs by being forced by state law to issue marriage licenses to relationships inconsistent with those beliefs.” The memo explains, however, that those officials can resolve this potential dilemma by appointing “a deputy clerk with full authority to perform all acts necessary to issue, administer, or process the marriage licenses of same-sex couples should a conflict arise.”

Goodness. They truly believe that if they perform the duties of their jobs, they’re going to go to Hell. How sad.

[h/t Joe]