Long-Time Couples Celebrate Cuyahoga County’s First Same-Sex Marriage License, Wedding Ceremony

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By Joanna Richards

When Rob Rivera and Dan Seifried set their wedding date 10 months ago, they didn’t realize their marriage might be an official one – legally recognized in Ohio.

But the big ceremony they have planned for tonight will put the force of law behind their 10-year relationship.

“It turns out tonight is the whole kit and caboodle,” Rivera told a mob of reporters, before entering the office where he and Seifried would receive Cuyahoga County’s first same-sex marriage license.

The Cleveland Heights residents ran from their hotel at Playhouse Square to the courthouse this morning after hearing the news.

“At our rehearsal dinner last night, we told them that it didn’t matter even what the Supreme Court said – that, you know, they celebrate us,” Rivera said. “So in some ways it didn’t matter…and in other ways, it means the world.”

“It means everything and nothing all at the same time,” Seifried said.  

Around noon, Cuyahoga County Probate Judge Anthony Russo officiated the county’s first same-sex wedding ceremony, for a couple who’d been together for 18 years.

Afterward, newlywed Keith Garrett said the length of his partnership with Christopher Richardson spoke for itself, but it was a relief to no longer have to cobble together powers-of-attorney as legal protections.

And beyond practicalities, “It provides that dignity and the respect” from society, he said. “I don’t know many straight couples who’ve been together for 18 years,” he added, laughing.

The court said it may remain open late tonight if it needs to meet demand from eager couples.

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