BLOOMINGTON (AP) — The mayor of Bloomington presided over a symbolic “wedding” ceremony for 13 same-sex couples to protest a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Indiana.

The couples held hands on a stage during the event Thursday that was part of the opening ceremonies for a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender festival.

“By the power not yet invested in me by the state of Indiana, I pronounce you partners in life,” Mayor Mark Kruzan told the couples, prompting a standing ovation. Kruzan and 10 Monroe County Council and Bloomington city council members then threw flowers over the couples.

“People ask us why we’re doing this. It’s about equality and opportunity,” Kruzan told The Indianapolis Star. “History simply will not smile kindly upon those who advocated against equality. It’s time that marriage be recognized by all.”

Kim Davis and Nancy Kalina, who have been together for 17 years, took part in the ceremony because they wanted to “put a face on gay marriage,” they told the Star.

“It’s shining a light that there are gay people all over the country, not just in New York or in San Francisco,” Kalina said, “who would like the opportunity to do that publicly in their hometown.”

Several local officials, including three members of the Monroe County Council and seven from the Bloomington City Council, attended the festivities to show their support for gay marriage, The Herald-Times reported.

Indiana lawmakers approved a constitutional gay marriage ban in 2011, but it must be approved again and pass a referendum before taking effect.