Flood of gay marriages expected this weekend in California

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San Francisco is expected to become ground-zero for same-sex marriages this weekend.

San Francisco and Sacramento counties extended their hours late into Friday evening to accommodate the demand for marriage licenses. The court order lifting the ban on gay marriage in California was made public about 3:30 p.m. Friday. More weddings will take place this weekend in San Francisco.

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/Clerk Dean Logan said he received a call from Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris at 4:07 p.m., informing him that marriage licenses were to be issued immediately. Couples who called were told they could obtain a license if they did so by 5 p.m. Keyser said he saw at least a dozen other people turned away.

The office will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday, according to county officials.

Only one marriage license was issued in Los Angeles County on Friday -- for the Proposition 8 plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank, who were to be wed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in City Hall on Friday evening.


“We did not know the decision was coming today,” said Logan, adding that the county was preparing to offer expanded access to civil ceremony services for at least 60 days.

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

Orange County will begin marriages Monday.

San Bernardino County did not issue any same-sex wedding licenses Friday because the assessor-recorder-county clerk’s office did not receive official word until 5:10 p.m., after the offices had closed.

“We will commence with the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday ... and will also perform same-sex marriages on that day,” the office’s Dan Harp said in an email.

In a surprise action, a federal appeals court bypassed the normal waiting period and lifted a hold on a trial judge’s order that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

The news came in a single, legalistic sentence Friday afternoon from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.


“The stay in the above matter is dissolved immediately,” a three-judge panel wrote.

Gov. Jerry Brown told county clerks they could begin marrying same-sex couples immediately, launching plans for ceremonies up and down the state. The two same-sex couples who filed the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8 headed to the city halls in Los Angeles and San Francisco to tie the knot, ending their long fight to become legal spouses.

“It couldn’t come a moment too soon,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who sparked the legal effort for gay marriage in California when he was San Francisco mayor.

“What extraordinary timing, right before [gay] pride weekend,” Newsom said. “ All that time, all the struggle, and the moment has arrived.”

Supporters of Proposition 8 were furious that the 9th Circuit acted before the normal waiting period. ProtectMarriage, the sponsors of the ballot measure, has 25 days from the ruling to ask for reconsideration.

“It is part and parcel of the utter lawlessness in which this whole case has been prosecuted, said Chapman Law professor John Eastman, a supporter of Proposition 8. “Normally, courts let the parties kind of pursue their legal remedies before they issue a mandate.”

He said the 25-day period for asking the Supreme Court to reconsider still applied and a rehearing, though extremely unlikely, remained a technical possibility.


“Tonight it is chaos and lawlessness, and anyone who is concerned about the rule of law ought to be deeply troubled by what happened here,” the constitutional law professor said.

Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage, expressed astonishment and dismay.

“I am not sure what we do at this moment,” he said. “It is 4:30 p.m. on a Friday. I am not sure what can be done at this point. This is beyond belief. I don’t think anybody expected this. The Supreme Court decision is not even final, and yet the 9th Circuit is rushing forward.”


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