Michael Snell and Steven Bridges of Portland were among the first gay couples to marry in the US state of Maine after same-sex marriage became legal in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The couple have been together for nine years and said: “We’ve been smiling the whole day.”

The US state of Maine voted in favour of marriage rights for gay couples in a public referendum on 6 November 2012.

Residents in the state voted 54% to 47% in support of marriage equality, at the time of publishing.

Maine’s legislature passed an equal marriage law in 2009, but in a state-wide ballot with echoes of California’s Proposition 8, it saw a majority of voters reverse the legislature’s decision before the measure came into force.

Yet in a show of resilience, Maine became the first place in the US where same-sex marriage supporters had successfully collected enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot themselves, with a complete victory.

At the time, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin said the result was a “landmark” move:

“We are thrilled for all Maine families and for the dedicated campaign that led this effort through to the end.

“As we celebrate victory tonight we know we have added momentum to ensure that this victory is soon felt in every corner of this country.”

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