HONOLULU – Retired professors Rod Powell and Bob Eddinger have been partners in life since they met at the University of Hawaii in 1977. On Monday, they joined in marriage on the first day their home state allowed same-sex couples to form such unions.
“I said to Bob, ‘Would you choose me again?’ And he looked at me and said ‘I choose you every day.’ And I think that says it all about how we feel about each other,” Powell said in an interview before they signed their marriage papers.
Powell, 78, and Eddinger, 74, have raised three children and cared for ailing parents in their 36 years together. They opted not to hold a ceremony for their official union, though. Instead, they took Carolyn Golojuch, a gay rights activist who performed the marriage, and her husband out to lunch.
They tied the knot on the first day to be among those marking the civil rights milestone for gays and lesbians.
“We chose to do it this day to celebrate it as a very significant forward movement in the transformation of society toward equality and justice,” Powell said.
The state Department of Health said it received 179 applications for marriage licenses from same-sex couples by midafternoon after it began accepting applications at midnight.
The department said 130 couples were residents of Hawaii while one or both partners in 49 of the couples lives out of state.
Earlier in the day, six couples at a Waikiki resort were the first in the state to tie the knot shortly after the new law took effect.
Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the Health Department has certified 46 same-sex marriages. The state has up to two days to issue a marriage certificate once a marriage is performed if a couple obtain their license online.
Hawaii helped start the national gay marriage discussion more than two decades ago when a same-sex couple was denied a marriage license, leading to a court fight that prompted Congress to pass the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Part of that law, which stipulated that marriage was between a man and woman, was struck down earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.