Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 --- 9:45 p.m.
Hundreds of couples have recited wedding and commitment vows at the First Unitarian Society of Madison. But Christine Pasinski & Nancy Smiegowski are the first gay couple to be legally married there.
Both nurse practitioners at the local VA, they met 29 years ago in Chicago working at a homeless shelter and have been together ever since. Tuesday's ceremony is not only a joyous moment in their relationship, it also relieves them of a lot of stress.
"Chris has been recently diagnosed with cancer, we are going to be pursuing all of the steps that go along with that," Smiegowski said. "And we just wanted to be sure that everything is in place so that she would be able to have protections, medically, financially, all the way around."
Minister Kelly Crocker with FUS married the couple. She hopes other gay couples follow in Nancy and Chris' footsteps.
"Many of our members went down to the courthouse this weekend and were married," Crocker said. "I'm expecting though that once it calms down a bit and there isn't this sense of urgency, folks are going to want to start planning bigger celebrations with family and friends. Hopefully they'll call us to do that."
Others in the wedding industry are also showing their support. Michelle Hall officiates weddings all over the state through her business Let's Get Married. She's holding a special event Wednesday for any gay couples who want to book a picturesque ceremony at the Inn on the Park.
"What I wanted to offer was something that represented how special their relationships were and give them a way to celebrate that before the window of opportunity closes. As we know, tomorrow afternoon, the whole option will be reconsidered and this could go away," Hall said. "Given that, I'm not sure how many couples would be able to pull together a wedding or a ceremony at the Inn on the Park. So I'm really feeling blessed that I'm able to put that together for people and give them that opportunity."
Hall says she still has room for 17 more couples who want to book a ceremony Wednesday. Couples and their guests can also just attend a reception from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will include music from Juke Box Bandstand.