SACRAMENTO -- The timing couldn't be better for Abby Maurer's parents, who were visiting California from Guatemala for her brother's wedding.
When they heard about the Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage, they hoped to witness Maurer's wedding to her partner of six years, Kim Kearsing, as well. But they doubted the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would lift the stay so fast.
Then they saw the news Friday, and Maurer, 30, quickly picked up the phone. "I called my parents and said, 'FYI, we might be getting married in an hour.'"
They all assembled at the Sacramento County clerk's office, which was staying open until 7 p.m., two hours later than usual. Someone picked up a small cake from a favorite bakery. Maurer was wearing jeans for casual Friday at her office, where she works as a lawyer.
The clerk's office was a bustle of activity as couples, waiting years for the court case to conclude, headed there to finalize their vows. More and more couples arrived to get married Friday night, some clutching hastily assembled bouquets of flowers. Staff members raced around the office to process paperwork as quickly as possible.
"I'm just elated," said Kearsing, 43. "For me, this is less about our wedding and more about the historical significance."
Maurer was also thrilled: "Finally! What has taken so long?"
Nicola Simmersbach, 50, was at home in Sacramento when her partner of seven years, Diana Luiz, 52, suddenly called out from the other room.
"Get in here right now!" she said, as they monitored breaking news about the 9th Circuit decision. They had agreed to get married as soon it was legal.
"We blew out of the house like there was a fire," Simmersbach said. But they were moving too fast -- they forgot the rings.
Luiz had to return home to get them, and "she did it without getting a moving violation," Simmersbach said.
They were married in a small room at the Sacramento County clerk's office, the first ceremony in the county after Proposition 8 was voided.
Luiz raised her bouquet of sunflowers and said, "History, baby!"
Afterward they spoke to reporters.
"That is nothing like a domestic partnership," Simmersbach said, almost breathless with emotion.
"It's marriage," Luiz said.
County Clerk Craig Kramer said he knew the office should stay open two hours late.
"Today's the rush," he said. "We knew this would be an important day."
Jeff Barr, 49, and Wes Wilkinson, 48, of Elverta already helped make history by being one of the first gay couples to get married in Yolo County in 2008.
Now they're helping their friends do the same in Sacramento, serving as their witnesses at one of the first gay weddings in the county after Proposition 8 was voided.
"It feels awesome," Barr said. "It's kind of a shame they had to wait five years."
Barr brought a copy of his own marriage certificate.
"I wanted to show people that five years is a long time," he said. "And justice has prevailed."
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