- Associated Press - Monday, September 7, 2015

MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D. (AP) - Eight gay couples exchanged and renewed vows during a group wedding at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

The celebration of this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage took place Sunday in the amphitheater overlooked by the presidential mountain carving.

Nancy Rosenbrahn, who coordinated the event, renewed vows with her wife, Jennie. The couple had married in Minnesota in April 2014 because same-sex marriage was not legal in South Dakota. She said she’s happy to finally exchange vows in her home state.

“It’s almost impossible to put into words,” Nancy Rosenbrahn told the Rapid City Journal. “We did it in South Dakota. This means everything.”

South Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional in January, and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized gay marriage in all 50 states this summer.

Kevin and Gary Oleson, who enjoy taking care of their garden at home and eventually want to purchase a motor home to travel the county with their dog, wore matching Hawaiian shirts as they exchanged vows for a second time. The two men, born and raised in the Black Hills, got married in Rapid City on July 9 but said Mount Rushmore was the perfect setting for another ceremony.

“What a place to do it,” Gary Oleson told the Rapid City Journal. “We’re so thankful.”

Tammy Gilbertson, of Keystone, came to support friends who were getting married. Gilbertson and her wife, Cine Hunsaker, got married on July 8. She said same-sex couples still suffer from discrimination despite the ruling, although there has been progress.

Annie Loyd, who officiated Sunday’s marriage celebration, told KEVN television that it was an honor to be able to present the couples to the community. “You know, some of these folks have waited literally decades.”

A wedding reception held the Adoba Hotel in downtown Rapid City also served as a fundraiser for the Black Hills Center for Equality.

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