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S.F. to issue gay marriage licenses over weekend, but not L.A.

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The San Francisco county clerk will continue issuing marriage licenses late into the evening Friday and over the weekend, a spokeswoman from Mayor Ed Lee's office said in the wake of a federal court's decision clearing the way for gay marriages to resume in California.

Officials said precise business hours Friday and over the weekend were not immediately clear but confirmed that licenses would be issued late into Friday night as well as on Saturday and possibly on Sunday.

People interested in getting a marriage licenses can visit SFMayor.org for updates, officials said.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office, however, closed at 5 p.m. Friday. Some couples were attempting to get marriage licenses before the office closed. It is not scheduled to reopen until 8 a.m. Monday. 

Office spokesman Dean Logan said he received a call from Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris at 4:07 p.m., informing him counties were to begin issuing licenses immediately.

“Anybody who is here in line until 5 p.m. when we close will get a license,” Logan said. “We are not turning people away.”

He added: “We are preparing to expand services for civil marriage ceremonies for as long as 60 days, initially.”

Logan said the county is obligated to notify employees who have to work overtime, something that was difficult to do on such short notice.

“We did not know the decision was coming today," he said. "This is now an ongoing service that will be available, and there’s not an end date on this.”

Logan said his office is making plans to accommodate everyone who wants a marriage license.

“There’s a lot to be happy about, and we certainly share in that happiness," he said. "We just want to be sure that our job is done correctly and that we have adequate resources to serve the public."

The California Assn. of Clerks and Election Officials said offices throughout the state were ready for the order. 

"We are all a go. It’s starting to happen," said Cathy Darling Allen, the clerk for Shasta County and the head of the association.

She said she got word that the Sacramento County office plans to stay open late Friday night, and she has asked her fellow county clerks to notify her if they plan on staying open through the weekend.

When asked if she anticipated any counties might not comply with the new law, she said, “Not as far as issuing licenses, no, I have no reason to believe we’d have an issue with that.”

San Francisco held its first gay wedding since 2008 at 4:45 p.m. Friday --just a little more than an hour after a federal appeals court opened the way for same-sex weddings to resume in California -- and Los Angeles was planning its at 6:15 p.m.

The two first gay couples to wed were the plantiffs in the Supreme Court case that was decided this week. 

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier of Berkeley were married in San Francisco by California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is to marry Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank.

At 4:10 p.m., a cheer went up in the San Francisco City Hall rotunda. Perry and Stier made their way from the city clerk's office, where they got their marriage license.

They walked to the marble stairs of the rotunda, where they posed for traditional wedding pictures -- with members of the media as their photographers. They made their way up the stairs and were greeted by a newlywed bride and groom who high-fived them as their paths crossed.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the court's action “couldn’t come a moment too soon.”

“What  extraordinary timing, right before pride weekend [in San Francisco],” Newsom said. “All that time, all the struggle, and the moment has arrived. I hope now with all the exuberance and pent-up energy it’s also a sober reminder that this is the real deal. It’s not to be entered into lightly, but thoughtfully, because this looks to be permanent.”

When asked if he was available to perform weddings, Newsom said: "I'm cheap and I’m available. I don’t even cost a dollar, so I’m a pretty good deal."

Newsom said city halls around the state should be open extended hours throughout the weekend whenever possible.

"The key is that everyone understands that this is not optional," Newsom said. "Counties need to begin immediately providing these certificates without regard to gender immediately."

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay on an injunction that ordered state officials to stop enforcing California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage. With the court's action, counties can now begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

A spokesman for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had originally said it would takes the court at least 25 days to act after a Supreme Court ruling.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have argued that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's 2010 decision overturning Proposition 8 applied only to the two same-sex couples who challenged the ballot measure. But the opponents' enthusiasm for going to court to try to narrow the effect of the decision appeared to wane in the hours after the decision.

With Brown and  Harris pledging to block Proposition 8 across California, the momentum for gay marriage was likely to hinder any further challenges. 

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, the sponsors of Proposition 8, 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.

ALSO:

Prop 8: Gay marriages can resume in California, court rules

Kamala Harris officiating Prop. 8 plaintiffs' San Francisco wedding

Gov. Jerry Brown's office ordering counties to resume gay marriage

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