After 13 years, Tanya Rodriguez and Wendee Montes didn't want to wait another day to get married.
"No one is guaranteed tomorrow," Montes said. "If something happened to her, I wanted to be able to say she was my wife."
The Brooklyn Park women became the second same-sex couple to marry in the chapel at the Anne Arundel Circuit Court in Annapolis on Wednesday morning.
"It's an amazing, amazing feeling," Rodriguez said. "I knew I was going to cry."
Voters in Maryland upheld a law legalizing gay marriage in the November election, but it didn't take effect until Tuesday. Since state offices were closed for New Year's Day, Wednesday was the first time couples could marry at the courthouse.
Since Gov. Martin O'Malley certified the election results on Dec. 6, 42 same-sex couples have registered for marriage licenses in Anne Arundel County. Rodriguez and Montes picked up their license on Dec. 27.
The couple's road to the alter started 13 years ago when they met in an online chat room.
"She was my first lesbian girlfriend," Rodriguez said. "She actually kind of brought me out of the closet."
Montes knew Rodriguez was the one shortly after they started dating, but Rodriguez said she "was kind of immature at the time." The couple separated for nearly seven years.
Rodriguez said her thoughts kept returning to Montes, and she eventually won her back.
They wore coordinated purple outfits as they exchanged vows in front of two of their six children. They plan to have a reception in August for family and friends.
"I'm really happy about it," said their daughter, Irides Montes.
Montes, who works as a nurse at MedStar Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, was also relieved that she can now cover Rodriguez under her health insurance, and the couple can make medical decisions for each other.
"We lived in Pennsylvania for a while and if something had happened to [Montes], they wouldn't have let me in the room," Rodriguez said.
The couple arrived in Annapolis after protestors from the controversial Westboro Baptist Church left. Four members of the Kansas-based church held signs and sang songs disparaging gay marriage and its supporters in front of the county courthouse on Wednesday from 8-9 a.m.
Rodriguez said the Westboro members wouldn't have deterred her. She believes God loves her and her new bride, and said she would have kissed her fiancée at the courthouse entrance.
"All of our family is very supportive of us," Rodriguez said. "She makes me more happy than I've ever been in my whole life."
Get local stories delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.