PHILADELPHIA -- The first gay marriages entered the history books at Philadelphia City Hall on Friday, as exhilarated couples both young and old exchanged vows. Eight couples were married in the mayor's gilded reception room, days after a federal judge lifted the state's same-sex marriage ban.
"We couldn't really turn that [offer] down because it is such a historic day for our community, and for Philadelphia," said printing company owner Adam Woods, 32, as he prepared to marry actor Justin Jain. "I'm full of love and pride for our city, our community and each other," said Mr. Jain, also 32.
Eight city judges performed the weddings simultaneously as family and friends circled around the couples.
Pennsylvania could host scores of same-sex weddings this weekend after U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III on Tuesday threw the state's 1996 ban on "the ash heap of history." Gov. Tom Corbett, who has fought gay marriage on several fronts, decided Wednesday not to appeal, saying it would be unlikely to succeed.
"I'm 51. I never, ever thought I'd see this day. Never," said Catherine Hennessy, who married longtime partner Kristin Keith, 42. "I'm so excited -- more excited than I could have dreamed."
Stern portraits of Philadelphia mayors from earlier centuries stared down at the newlyweds, not that Ms. Hennessy noticed. "I could only look at Kristin," she said. "Time to move forward."
College Spanish teachers Oscar Cabrera and Chris DiCapua said they have not faced any overt discrimination since meeting at the University of Kansas nearly 20 years ago. Nonetheless, the formal recognition of their relationship is important to them.
"It always felt strange that 18-year-olds could marry somebody they met the day before, while we've been together 18 years and couldn't get married," Mr. Cabrera said.