Alexander-Reid, a well-known advocate for lesbians of color, has been advocating for marriage equality since the 1990s, campaigning for the cause in both Washington and Maryland.

She has directed organizations such as Women in the Life and Wanda's Will Project, both designed to promote social equality for those in the gay community.

Recently at a barbershop, she left after the barbers began making fun of a gay client who had just left.

"It's bittersweet to know that you have got this law passed to get you equality, but you can still hear people make fun of you and see people discriminate against you," Alexander-Reid said.

But despite that experience, Alexander-Reid said there has been a "huge shift" in the perception of homosexuality.

She believes this perception shift is driven by people seeing gay couples "as human beings," and seeing the family aspect of their relationship instead of immediately thinking about the sexuality.

"You're not defined by sexuality and we don't want to be defined by our sexuality. That's just one aspect of who we are," Alexander-Reid said.

'It's almost unbelievable'

The Maryland same-sex marriage license represents the second time Cummings-Thomas, a marriage officiate in Washington, and Alexander-Reid, a business development director with the Washington City Paper, have been granted a marriage license.

The couple, who had known each other since the late 1990s, received a license in Washington shortly after same-sex marriage was approved there in 2009.

But plans for a wedding never came together, and now they will be able to be married closer to home, which they say is a big benefit.

"It makes it real, to be able to do it here and happen in a way we wanted it to," Cummings-Thomas said.

For Alexander-Reid, it's something she thought might never be possible.

"Somebody's going to have to pinch me, it's almost unbelievable that it could really happen," she said.