The restart to gay marriage in California happened very quickly Friday afternoon -- coming as a huge surprise to two plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier of Berkeley.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to greenlight same-sex marriages came abruptly. The couple had gone to work on Friday, and three of their four sons were out of town. The one who did come, Elliot Perry, 18, was the ring bearer.
When Perry first found out that she could marry her longtime partner on Friday, she told herself: "'Get going, get ready, get dressed.' That's what I thought, and that's what I did."
Perry and Stier quickly asked California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris to officiate the wedding Friday afternoon. The ceremony occurred at San Francisco City Hall just before 5 p.m., less than two hours after the appeals court acted.
Harris said she got a call from the couple at 3:30 p.m. asking her to officiate.
"There was no plan I know of -- it all kind of happened. Sometimes there are plans. Sometimes things just happen," Harris told The Times. “I got the call, they asked me to perform the marriage. I’m deeply humbled.”
Harris said she also did not get an early warning from the appellate court. Harris had urged the appeals court on Wednesday to act as quickly as possible -- and not wait the standard 25 days for the Supreme Court decision to become final -- to lift the stay on the original 2010 federal court decision ruling Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional.
“They didn’t have to do what they did as quickly as they did. They made a real statement that you deny justice when you delay justice," Harris said. “When people are excited, it’s amazing how quickly they can move.”
At a news conference after the first same-sex wedding in California since 2008, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, said: "Today, we are all more American and marriage has returned to the great state of California. No one can take that away. No judge. No election. No one."
Harris was asked by a reporter whether Perry and Stier's ceremony was legal given the fact that the Supreme Court decision was not yet final. “These marriages are legitimate," she said. "They are legal. And they are going to continue. It is about time.”
Spier and Perry exulted in their marriage. "We have waited a long time for this day," Spier told reporters. Kris and I fell in love 14 years ago. We wanted our love to be dignified by the institution of marriage. … Every day that goes by that gays and lesbians can’t get married in California is a day too many."
Added Perry: "It’s a great day in San Francisco. A great day in California. A great day in the United States of America, because Sandy and I are married. It is the first day of the rest of our lives together."
The San Francisco County Clerk's office extended its hours until 8 p.m. Friday night to issue same-sex wedding licenses, and will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Officials in San Francisco issued 25 to 30 licenses in the first hour.
Bevan Dufty, a former San Francisco supervisor who is now the city's homeless czar, said he had already officiated two weddings. He referred to the brief time in 2004 that then-Mayor Gavin Newsom opened the path for gay weddings to happen in San Francisco -- marriages that were later invalidated.
"It has all the energy of 2004," Dufty said. "The unexpected arrival of marriages, with Kamala Harris, is wild."
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