LOCAL L.A. Now

West Hollywood gay weddings 'so joyful,' they'll continue Tuesday

The city of West Hollywood will again conduct wedding ceremonies in City Council chambers Tuesday because of demand from same-sex couples.

The city said in a news release that Monday's wedding ceremonies were "so joyful" that they will continue on a first-come, first-served basis from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Couples must first obtain a marriage license from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder. The nearest office to West Hollywood is in Beverly Hills. West Hollywood will continue waiving the civil ceremony fee.

Ceremonies will also be conducted on the 4th of July at Kings Road Park from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only. The city will continue offering civil ceremonies every Thursday indefinitely by appointments that must be made at the Beverly Hills Courthouse.

On Monday, Los Angeles County issued a total of 621 marriage licenses  countywide and conducted more than 100 civil ceremonies at county offices in Norwalk, according to the registrar-recorder's office. 

Lee Conger, 56, and John Wingler, 66, of Silver Lake, said they "dallied" when gay marriage was briefly legal in the state in 2008. So when they heard the news Friday afternoon that same-sex weddings could resume weeks before anyone anticipated, "we freaked out and realized we'd better get ourselves down" to the courthouse, Conger said.

When they arrived at the registrar-recorder's office at 7:20 a.m. Monday, it was "like a party," Wingler said, with other couples showing up with the same sense of hope and urgency. Standing in line together, listening to everyone else's stories, was "heartwarming and encouraging," Conger said.

Rey Ramos, 43, and Rob Larsen, 53, headed from Pasadena to the Beverly Hills courthouse to get their license. In line, they met a rabbi who offered to marry them on the spot.

"All of these years of marching in the street and writing to Assembly people — it's finally done," said Larsen, a retired California Highway Patrol officer.

In West Hollywood, road signs along Santa Monica and Robertson boulevards directed drivers to "wedding parking." City staffers set up awnings and tested wedding music over loudspeakers, and City Council members were deputized to officiate marriages by county Recorder-Registrar Dean Logan.

When Northridge residents Pat Joyce and Anne Morrison arrived in West Hollywood early Monday, Morrison clutched the yellow folder containing the wedding license they had just obtained from the registrar-recorder branch in Beverly Hills.

The couple has been together for 26 years. "It was a long engagement," said Morrison, 61, a retired teacher.

"We talked about marriage many times," said Joyce, 60, who works on the support staff at UCLA.

The couple said they didn't think they'd ever see legal gay marriage. "Not in our lifetime," Joyce said.

They began planning to wed in 2008, but were unable to have a ceremony before Proposition 8 passed. They became domestic partners instead.

"We thought we had time," Joyce said. "We were too late."

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