At about 12:45 p.m. Monday, June 29, New Orleans couple Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin - partners for nearly 15 years - wed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.
"By the virtue of the powers and authority conferred upon me by the Constitution and the laws of the state of Louisiana and in the presence of the God almighty, I pronounce you, Michael Robinson, and you Earl Benjamin Jr., to be legally married spouses under the laws of this nation in the state of Louisiana," said District Court Judge Paula Brown, who performed the ceremony. "You may now kiss your spouse."
The couple became the first in Louisiana to legally marry in the state following Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturns same-sex marriage bans in all 50 states and requires states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where they previously were legal. Louisiana was the last state to accept same-sex marriage licenses.
Benjamin and Robinson work in public health and social work; Robinson is working on a doctorate at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Science. They bought a house in New Orleans in 2012. The couple isn't going on a honeymoon just yet - Benjamin has to finish a paper.
Before the couple exchanged vows, Judge Brown said, "The Supreme Court has spoken, so we can get on with this matter." Brown also read a passage of 1 Corinthians 13:13: "Now faith, hope and love abide, these three - but the greatest of these is love."
"You're my best friend - you know more about me than anyone else on this planet, and you still accept me for all my faults and all the things we've gone through," Robinson said. "I love you for you just being you and for being the strong person you are. You already know I wouldn't be the man I am today without you, and for that I will always love you."
"You have changed me and grown me into the man I am today," Benjamin said. "Where I am in life right now has only happened because I have you in my life, and I look forward to growing older with you, to having children with you. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I love you."
Two hours before the Benjamin-Robinson ceremony, Marrero couple Celeste Autin and Alesia LeBoeuf received their marriage license from the Jefferson Parish clerk of court in Gretna - the first same-sex couple in Louisiana to receive a marriage license. Autin has carried their birth certificates with them since the Supreme Court decision, ready to present them to the clerks office to receive a license. Autin and LeBoeuf also are deputy clerks of court - LeBoeuf has worked there for 35 years, and Autin has worked there for 25 years.
"We got word this morning that they started issuing out the licenses," LeBoeuf said.
The couple met 38 years ago at L.W. Higgins High School. While LeBoeuf played in a "powderpuff" football game, LeBoeuf looked on from the stands. They later met through a mutual friend.
"We've been inseparable ever since," LeBoeuf said.
Minutes after applying for their license this morning, they received their certificate - time-stamped at 10:32 a.m. They're tentatively planning their wedding ceremony July 9 (they had to go back to work this morning).
"It's not so much about being the first one to get the license as it is just getting a license, and having the opportunity to marry the one you've always wanted to be with your whole life," she said. "Now we can have the benefits other people have - if I'm in critical condition or she's in critical condition in the hospital, you don't have to get told by a doctor or anyone that 'you're not a family member.'"
Benjamin - who with Robinson made an unsuccessful attempt to receive a license after filling out paperwork in New Orleans last Friday, nearly becoming the first same-sex married couple in the city and state - also went to the Jefferson Parish clerk of court this morning to fill out paperwork for a license. He then rushed to New Orleans' Civil District Court to meet Robinson for their ceremony.