SAN FRANCISCO -- California held its first gay marriage since 2008 as state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris performed the wedding ceremony for Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, plaintiffs in the landmark court case that challenged Proposition 8.
They were married in San Francisco about an hour after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opened the way for same-sex weddings to resume in California. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was slated to marry Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, the other plaintiffs in the case, at L.A. City Hall at 6:15 p.m.
"By virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the state of California, I now declare you spouses for life," Harris told Perry and Stier on a second-floor balcony at San Francisco City Hall. Someone shouted, "Mazel tov!"
Perry was wearing a gray pantsuit and Stier a gray dress. Eliot Perry, one of the couple's four sons, was the ring bearer.
Walking in at 4:48 p.m. to cheers, Harris, the former San Francisco district attorney, smiled broadly as she began the brief ceremony. "We are here today to celebrate the beautiful relationship between Kris Perry and Sandy Stier...
"Today we witness not only the joining of Kris and Sandy but the realization of their dreams of marriage ... representing thousands of couples like themselves," Harris said.
The vows were the same ones that have been used for hundreds of years.
"Do you, Kris, take Sandy as your lawfully wedded wife?" Harris asked.
"Do you, Sandy, take Kris to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love and cherish from this day forward?"
Spectators jammed City Hall to watch history, with people peering from the balconies above. As they walked away from the clerk's office where they obtained the marriage license, the couple were greeted by a straight couple who had just married as well. They exchanged high-fives.
About an hour earlier, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had cleared the way for gay marriages to resume in California.
The court lifted its stay on an injunction that ordered state officials to stop enforcing Proposition 8, California's ban on gay marriage. With the court's action, counties can now begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
A spokesman for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had originally said it would take the court at least 25 days to act after a Supreme Court ruling. Immediately afterward, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered his public health agency to advise the state's counties to "begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the 9th Circuit confirms the stay is lifted."
The authors of Proposition 8 denounced the immediate resumption of gay marriages in California after Friday's decision to greenlight same-sex weddings immediately.
Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage, the official proponents of Proposition 8, said the decision by the federal appeals court in San Francisco came without waiting for the Supreme Court's decision to become final -- which takes 25 days from the day of the judgment -- and deprived his group of "our right to ask for reconsideration."
"This outrageous act tops off a chronic pattern of lawlessness, throughout this case, by judges and politicians hell-bent on thwarting the vote of the people to redefine marriage by any means, even outright corruption," Pugno said in a statement.
California voters passed Proposition 8 in 2008, six months after the California Supreme Court ruled that gays had the right to wed. The state high court later ruled that the initiative was a valid state constitutional amendment but upheld the validity of an estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages that occurred before the election.
The Supreme Court ruled that ProtectMarriage lacked legal authority or standing to appeal Walker's ruling blocking the ballot initiative. The high court said Proposition 8's sponsors were not directly affected by Walker's ruling. Only state officials had the right to appeal, and they refused. That procedural decision wiped out the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' 2-1 ruling against Proposition 8, leaving only Walker's decision in place and affecting only California.
County clerks who preside over marriages said they were ready for same-sex weddings. Marriage licenses already are gender-neutral, and clerks began receiving calls Wednesday from gay couples wanting to schedule appointments.
Harris called on the 9th Circuit on Wednesday to lift its hold on Walker's ruling immediately. The attorney general said she believed that the appeals court had the authority to act quickly.
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