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California

Same-sex couples rush to get marriage licenses

Gay couples caught off guard by Friday’s surprise announcement that same-sex marriage was officially legal in California, rushed to local courthouses Monday morning to get marriage licenses.

Lee Conger, 56, and John Wingler, 66, confessed they “dallied” when gay marriage was briefly legal in the state in 2008. 

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So when they heard the news that a California appeals court had reinstated gay marriage weeks before anyone anticipated, “We freaked out and realized we’d better get ourselves down to [the courthouse],” Wingler said.

The couple raced from their home in Silver Lake to Norwalk to get their license.

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When they got there, at 7:20 a.m., it was “like a party,” Wingler said, as other couples arrived with the same sense of urgency. Standing in line together, listening to everyone else’s stories, was “heartwarming and encouraging,” Conger said.

Last week, the United State’s Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, thereby requiring the federal government to recognize gay marriages approved by states. 

The Supreme Court also refused to rule on a California Appeals court decision striking down Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned gay marriage in the Golden State. Initially, the California court indicated it could be nearly a month until the marriages could resume.

But on Friday, the court announced the ban was lifted immediately.

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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.

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jack.dolan@latimes.com

@jackdolanLAT

emily.foxhall@latimes.com

christine.maiduc@latimes.com


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