"I was the first openly gay member voted to this council," Catania said. "I left the Republican party. I was a gay Republican. An anomaly. But I broke with President Bush over this issue. To make same-sex marriage a violation of the Constitution? What an affront."
Catania, who arrived at the city courthouse with cupcakes for gay couples Wednesday, said he saw gay marriage in D.C. not only a personal victory but as a symbolic measure for the country.
"We are shaping and reshaping families and communities and it is perfecting what 'equal rights' means," he said. "In D.C., we have stared down a monster and said, 'Not here.' I was cautious about the national implications but we are the nation's capital. And this is where people come to understand our democracy and to be a part of that understanding."
"D.C. is a tolerant place," Catania added. "We did not have our own indigenous tolerance. It was imported, especially by Bishop Jackson."
Catania said that Jackson relocated from Maryland for the specific purpose of fighting gay marriage, setting up a residence in the District. He said Jackson and his supporters leave many people in D.C. "shocked and chagrined."
"Washingtonians do not like being told how to live our lives by people who are not among us," Catania said. "They blew it. We are eagerly awaiting Jackson's D.C. tax filing, eagerly."
While he waits, some academics looked to the other economic implications of same-sex marriages coming to fruition in the capital.
Lee Badgett of the Williams Institute at UCLA said she anticipates about 50 percent of D.C.'s same-sex couples seeking marriage, about 1,900 couples.
"We see a pretty clear pattern that about half of couples will get married," Badgett said. "We expect they will spend about $10,000 a piece, so right there is about $19 million. D.C. pretty much has a lock on the south. All the same sex couples below the Mason-Dixon line have nowhere else to go."
The Williams Institute also estimated that gay marriage in the city will create about 700 jobs through additional needed hospitality personnel and government employees.
As for the couples who will spend that money Tuesday, they have been stepping away from politics for the moment and are worrying instead about guest lists, seating charts and the legacy they will leave.
"My children and grandchildren will look back and say, 'Our country saw the light." Young said, with an eye toward her Tuesday wedding. "Right now, reporters are calling us … but outside of this moment, we are really kind of boring people."
Not so, said Townsend, laughing like a long-married spouse: "I don't think I'm boring."