Same-sex newlyweds celebrate at public reception in Huntsville

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Married same-sex couples took to the dance floor at a reception the likes of which Alabama had not yet seen, Monday.

In all, more than 60 same-sex couples received marriage licenses that day in Madison County. Forty-three made it official at Big Spring Park, and at a public party that evening at the Embassy Suites in Huntsville, they  got a chance to celebrate. Tim Satterfield and Mike Carroll were among them.

"We are very much in love, and we are so proud to be legally recognized in the state of Alabama," said Satterfield.

These two got married on a whim. "Mike was supposed to be on a flight to India," said Satterfield about his husband, "but he cancelled it... and he said let's go, drive to Huntsville and get married. And I said, ok!" They're from Ashland, Mississippi, a small town where they may not have had as much of a chance to celebrate their union. "There would not have been a reception," said Carroll, "like we're having now. And we're grateful for that. Something to celebrate our marriage."

Keri Klaus of Equality Alabama, who made the reception possible in partnership with Wedding Week organizers, said that's what it's all about. "We just want [couples] to know that for every negative thing they might hear, there is a room full and a community full of people who want to celebrate with them."

Straight allies came out, too, supporting the couples who made it official. "It's personal to me with family and dear friends," said Sarah Haynes, "for them to have the same rights that I had when I was born."

It was a room full of strangers, dancing and socializing in the rainbow-colored lights around the dance floor. They made memories out of little moments, and also some of the biggest.

"[In] sickness , health, the whole nine yards," Carroll said, gesturing to his new husband. "He's got to put up with me through all of it."

While it's unclear what will happen with other counties in Alabama, it's likely Madison County's probate judge will continue issuing licenses unless the Supreme Court rules differently.  Madison County is the only county in WHNT News 19's coverage area that allowed same-sex and straight couples alike to make it official Monday.

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