Long lines for gay marriage in California

<i>This post has been corrected, as indicated below.</i>

SAN FRANCISCO -- The first full day of gay marriages in California since the Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex nuptials in the state brought lines to San Francisco City Hall and a festive mood to the city on gay pride weekend.

But there continued to be some grumblings in Los Angeles because the clerk there will not begin same-sex weddings until Monday. Orange County officials also say marriages will begin Monday.

An appeals court’s surprise decision Friday afternoon to lift the stay on gay marriage made for good timing in San Franisco, where gay pride weekend was already scheduled.


The events were getting a “tremendous boost” from the court decisions, said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who once worked with famed gay rights activist and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.

An hour before the San Francisco county clerk’s doors opened at 9 a.m., there were about 20 people in line. An hour later, there were more than 100.

“It’s a tidal wave you can’t turn back,” said Art Cook from Belmont.

Cook, 55, drove down to San Francisco with his partner, Brian Nolan, to get their marriage licenses. The couple planned to get married Nov. 12, they said, but a week of historic rulings for gay marriage swept them up in the moment.

“We decided to go up and see what happens,” said Nolan, 47. They met nine years ago at a gay pride festival in the Bay Area and have been together ever since.

As they waited, two men walked by, with one yelling “24 years right here! Muah!” and blew a kiss at the line. People hung out of car windows cheering for the soon-to-be-wedded, drivers honked and people snapped pictures.


“I think this is the most monumental week we’ve had in a long, long time,” said Angie Bush, 34.

Bush is a member of the LGBT community and diverted her morning jogging route to make sure she passed City Hall. “This is an amazing day,” she said before continuing on.

San Francisco, which is hosting its annual gay pride festival, 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 same-sex 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.

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

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

The appeals court bypassed a normal waiting period in lifting a hold on a trial judge’s order that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

“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.

[For the record, 2:58 p.m. June 29: A previous version of this post said a marriage license for Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo was issued Saturday. It was issued Friday.]