First gay marriages to be held in San Francisco, Los Angeles


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

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

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


At 4:10 p.m., a cheer went up in the San Francisco City Hall rotunda. Perry and Spier 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 the media as their official 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 their 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 Los Angeles County Clerk-Recorder said Friday that it would resume issuing marriage licenses for same-sex weddings as soon as it received official word from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court 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 Atty. Gen. Kamala D. 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.


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