It was time to get down to the Salt Lake County Clerk's office. Those four hours, before the office closed and marriages could be performed, were a highlight of my years of public service. It was thrilling. And more than anything, I don't think I stopped crying for four straight hours.
How could you not? There were hundreds of people in the hallways, or rushing up the sidewalks, and filling the main office, all of us uncertain how long this moment would last. I can't remember ever encountering so much joy and so much love in one crowded, wonderfully chaotic space. And not just among the couples themselves, but shared, in many cases, by their children, parents or siblings, all of whom dropped everything to be there for these sudden, unexpected marriages.
In a way, there was something very traditional about these wedding parties. The people who really mattered to these couples, who would move heaven and earth to be there for their marriages, were witnesses to this explosion of joy. It was a spontaneous outbreak of love. I'll never forget it.
So here we are today. Before the state was granted its stay on Judge Shelby's decision, 1,362 Utah couples married. I know people who changed their minds on marriage equality over those 16 days of pictures, celebrations and announcements.
Part of what is happening in Utah is what's happening across the country. Gay and lesbian Utahns and Americans no longer live separate lives. We know them. They're members of our family, they coach our kids in little league, or work in the cubicle next to us every day.
What is happening here in Utah is what's happening everywhere else. As each of us comes to know these fellow citizens, it brings a deeper reflection on how there are so many more similarities than differences among us. And if that is the case, then why would we deny them the protections and responsibilities that only flow from marriage?
We don't know, of course, what will happen with this case as it moves through the appeals process and ultimately, most probably, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Predicting the outcome is impossible and foolhardy. But here's what I do know:
I will always remember my participation on that historic day to advance the freedom to marry for all loving couples.
Ralph Becker is mayor of Salt Lake City and a member of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.