Sue Carnell and Gail Chodron weren't able to get a marriage license when they went to the City-County Building in the hours after Friday's District Court ruling that halted Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriages.
Yet they both ended up playing their own big roles in one of the more memorable images from the wedding celebrations taking place outside the building.
Chodron took a photo of Carnell, a Madison police officer, and two of her uniformed colleagues carrying cakes for the impromptu party. Chodron then shared it with two people and it went viral over the weekend.
The tagline with Chodron's photo when first tweeted by Judy Karofsky: "The cops brought the cake."
"We get ribbed for a lot of things as police officers," Carnell said, "and I'll tell you, I don't mind being ribbed for something like that."
Carnell and Chodron were married five years ago in Vancouver; same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005. So they were told Friday that they were not eligible to be married again and that their Canadian union was recognized here.
They were outside the City-County Building, celebrating with other couples who got married, when Carnell struck up a conversation with fellow officers Matt Kenny and Zach Kimbrew.
Given the number of wedding celebrations taking place, Kenny made the suggestion that he and Kimbrew should go get some cake.
"There should be cake," Carnell said later. "It was a wedding."
Kenny and Kimbrew soon returned from Hy-Vee. That's when Chodron snapped the picture of Kimbrew, Kenny and Carnell, each with a sheet cake in a plastic container, walking across Martin Luther King Boulevard toward the City-County Building. Carnell, the only one of the three not in police uniform, also has a bag of utensils and appears to be raising the cake to show the crowd.
Karofsky and Capital Times associate editor John Nichols were both on site but didn't see the cake arrive, so Chodron sent both the picture.
As of Monday afternoon, Nichols' version had been retweeted more than 750 times, with 70 more retweets of Karofsky's post. Wired investigative reporter Steve Silberman tweeted it three times since Saturday, gaining another 700-plus retweets combined. On Facebook, PrideFest Milwaukee's copy of the photo had more than 14,000 likes and more than 4,000 shares.
Carnell noticed Saturday morning how many people had seen the picture on social media and later said she was a little surprised by the virality.
"It's a beautiful moment to be able to have your constitutional rights," she said. "I'm in that business. That's what I do. I work every day to make sure everybody's constitutional rights are protected. And here's a moment where I feel like my constitutional rights are also now being stood up for. I think everybody out there feels the same way, and it's just a moment to rejoice... to say, 'Yeah, this is what we're about, this is our right, this is great.'"