(NECN/WMUR: Concord, N.H.) - It is a new year, and New Hampshire is recognizing same-sex marriage.
Early this morning, couples gathered at the foot of the statehouse steps in Concord to take advantage of the new law, as soon as they possibly could.
Lisa and Cheli Duclos have waited for the day they could exchange a ring and a kiss and make it official: they are now married.
"I haven't been happier than I am right now," said Cheli Duclos .
One-by-one, couples came forward to say their "I do's". Linda Murphy and Donna Swartwout have been together 19 years. They held their own wedding ceremony 11 years ago, and have waited a long time for the state to hear, and acknowledge, their vows.
While the rights granted to same-sex couples under the new marriage law are no different than the civil unions approved in 2008, activists say the change is about more than just wording.
"You know second class citizenship, it's a big difference -- everybody knows what a marriage is," said Mo Baxley of N.H. Freedom to Marry.
Couples, including 2nd and 3rd from left respectively, Cheli Duclos and Lisa Duclos both of Manchester, N.H. wait with other couples, families and friends, to be wed on steps of New Hampshire's State Capitol New Year's Eve as the historic Marriage Equality law takes effect at midnight in Concord, N.H. , January 1, 2010. New Hampshire same sex couples can now officially marry or convert their vows from a civil union to a state-recognized marriage.