Couples wed at Tycoons in downtown Duluth as gay marriage becomes legal in Minnesota

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There probably have been marriage ceremonies at Old City Hall in downtown Duluth before. But not for nearly a century, and certainly not like this.

Five same-sex couples were married at just after midnight today at Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery, the current incarnation of the historic stone building on East Superior Street.

For many of those now legally married, simple was the key to preparing. It’s why they chose the ceremony at Tycoons.

“I picked the ties up on my lunch hour,” said Keith Haugen, who was greeting friends and family before the ceremony while sitting at the bar with his partner of 27 years, Mike Goerdt. Their ties were a perfect match.

“Why wait?” Haugen said of why they chose to get married at 12:01. “We’ve been waiting all these years and can finally do it. It’s still hard to believe.”

The idea for the event came from John Goldfine, who wanted a place for couples to gather and get married for little cost and to celebrate the new law the second it came into effect. Many of the services provided Wednesday night and early today were donated.

Volunteer photographers flitted about the Chamber Hall an hour before the ceremony while a harpist set the mood among laughter and expectation in voices. Champagne was poured and helped calm the nerves of the couples and those waiting for history to be made.

Goldfine was scrambling to get the paperwork in order as couples filed in after 10 p.m. He was performing the first mass ceremony, set to end just after midnight. Other officiants were on hand for individual ceremonies.

Goldfine’s remarks at the ceremony reflected the struggle to defeat a gay marriage ban last year and then to enact legalized gay marriage this year. He asked those in attendance to thank the people who helped “make this a historic night for all Minnesotans.”

The idea wasn’t unique. Dozens of couples married as the new Minnesota law allowing same-sex marriages went into effect.

Weddings were scheduled to start at the stroke of midnight at Minneapolis City Hall, St. Paul’s Como Park, Mall of America’s Chapel of Love and at county courthouses sprinkled across the state.

“It feels historic. It’s an honor to be a part of it,” said Tim Roberts, the Stearns County court administrator, who planned to perform a 12:01 a.m. wedding at the courthouse in St. Cloud.