WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) – More than 400 people witnessed the first same-sex civil union in Delaware on New Year’s Day, a ceremony one guest called “absolutely beautiful.”
Lawyers Lisa Goodman and Drewry Fennell were joined in the union by the Rev. Patricia Downing, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wilmington, where the afternoon ceremony took place.
“Everything went perfect, I couldn’t be happier, everything was flawless,” said Ken Boulden Jr., New Castle County Clerk of the Peace. Boulden opened his office on Sunday so that Goodman and Fennell and seven other couples could get their licenses the first day they were available. Boulden was a guest at the Goodman-Fennell ceremony.
Calling the event a “lovefest,” Boulden said the good weather meant even heaven smiled down upon the couple. “It was a great way to begin the new year,” he said.
Downing said she had known Goodman and Fennell for about four years and the couple crafted a service to reflect their relationship. “I’m full of pride and joy and extremely happy and excited that this could happen in Delaware,” she said.
Goodman and Fennell have been partners for 14 years. Goodman is a lawyer who led the advocacy group Equality Delaware’s fight for the civil union legislation, and Fennell is head of the state Criminal Justice Council and former director of the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“We felt so lifted up by everyone who was there,” Goodman said by phone as she and Fennell were riding to their home after the ceremony and reception.
Goodman said Fennell wore a black suit with a peplum jacket, and Goodman wore a gray pantsuit with a gray and tan jacket. The couple had a choir that performed hymns and Christmas carols, one in Spanish, because the church has a Spanish-speaking congregation.
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., read the sermon and Delaware Lt. Gov. Matt Denns read scripture at the ceremony.
Goodman said that when the congregation gave the couple a standing ovation after the union was pronounced, “I was afraid to turn around because I was afraid I might cry.”
The law authorizing civil unions was signed by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell in May. Delaware is now one of about a dozen states that allows either civil unions or marriages for same-sex couples.
Goodman said she and Fennell hoped to spend a long weekend in New York sometime soon, but that both would go back to work on Tuesday.
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