Same-sex couple weds after 51 years together

Wayne Lawrence and Lee Durler of Laguna Beach tied the knot Monday.

Mayor Kelly Boyd officiated at the ceremony, held in the Laguna Beach County Water Department garden.

Lawrence and Durler, both in their mid-70s, have been together 51 years.

"Back in the day, we never dreamed we could do this," said Lawrence.

Born in the same hospital about a year apart, Lawrence and Durler were high school classmates in Coachella Valley.

They have lived in Laguna Beach for 41 years and registered here as domestic partners by then-City Clerk Verna Rollinger.

Back then Laguna was a haven for gays and lesbians. Laguna Beach City Councilman Bob Gentry was the first openly gay elected official in Orange County and the city was a pioneer in the concept of domestic partnerships.

The recent Supreme Court decision made same-sex marriages legal, but Boyd wasn't sure that a marriage performed by him would be legal.

"I told them to check with the county," Boyd said.

Advised that the mayor of a city is authorized by law to perform a civil ceremony, wedding plans went forward.

"I was happy to do it," said Boyd, who read vows written by Durler and signed documents provided by the county that legalized the union. "I have known them for 40 years."

The ceremony was witnessed by Arch Beach Heights neighbors Tammy Lechner and Adrienne Helitzer, who photographed the exchange of vows. Carol Segerstom and Mary Lou Mooney were the ring bearers.

"We are thrilled for them," Helitzer said.

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