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Related Categories: San Francisco | LGBTI / Queer
California City Takes the Lead in Recognizing Same-Sex Couples in Civil Marriage
by MECA (repost)
Saturday Feb 14th, 2004 9:12 AM
It's Official! Marriage Licenses Issued to Same-Sex Couples in San Francisco!
marriage_license_molly_davina.jpg
Marriage license issued to MECA leaders and legal spouses,
Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski, on Feb. 12, 2004, Naitonal Freedom to Marry Day.

---

Message From Molly McKay, Co-Executive Director, MECA, and newlywed:

Here is our official marriage license from the state (see above)...it's the same document that all other legally married couples get to prove they are married. I have legally married the woman of my dreams and I can't tell you how happy I feel today. I finally understand that saying, "I have a song in my heart." I guess she and I will go to MA in May to throw birdseed for other couples - I hope they aren't too mad that we got married before they did.

What exciting times! We just never know what will happen next!

I walked up the steps to City Hall for our 5th annual "Stand up for your relationship by getting turned down for a marriage license" protest and a friend ran up and said, "There won't be a demonstration," and I thought--what happened--did we not get the permit right or something and he said, "No protest because they are letting us marry."

And at that exact moment I saw Phyllis with her marriage certificate in hand and I went running over to her and started crying with joy. How beautiful that she and Del--our founding mothers of the movement--were able to live to see this glorious day and serve as the first legally married same-sex couple in the United States.

The day was a whirlwind. Major kudos to Assemblymember Mark Leno and his unbelievable stamina as he married couple after couple without rest in the rotunda throughout the entire afternoon. Thank you to our straight ally San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom--his press conference was so powerful and clear, "Read the CA Constitution--there is no argument, not letting same-sex couples marry is
discrimination and it's wrong." He is a rising star of the Democratic party and his action confirms that the winds of change are in full gust and blowing our way for good. He will always be remembered as a friend and history will prove his action just and on the right side of US history.

Tons of MECA, EQCA, NCLR, and other Coalition friends were there with their partners--Toni Broaddus had the full-on bride glow--she and her "spouse," Janice, were just beaming with joy. Our MECA chapter leaders, Ellen and Shelly rushed down from Davis to legally marry after 30 years together--Sharon Smith and Michelle and their two beautiful babies Kennedy and Chase were there to witness their mom's marriage--it was...how can I put it in words--priceless--dreamlike.

It is sweet moments like these that gives meaning to the larger struggle and shows us the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I have the marriage certificate on my door at the office today--my law firm is throwing me an impromptu wedding shower (firm-wide 200 attorneys) this afternoon, and I have more hope in my heart than ever that we will win this fight, and soon!

--Molly
molly_davina_enter_courthouse.jpe
§Together eight years and legally married on February 12
by MECA (repost) Saturday Feb 14th, 2004 9:12 AM
021204_davina_molly.jpg
Together eight years and legally married on February 12, in San Francisco, Davina Kotulski and Molly McKay excitedly exchange vows. Officiating at their ceremony is Assemblymember Mark Leno, who on the same day introduced a bill into the legislture that will allow same-sex couples across the state to legally wed.
§MECA leaders (and newlyweds)
by MECA (repost) Saturday Feb 14th, 2004 9:12 AM
021204_wedded_at_last.jpg
MECA leaders (and newlyweds), show off their civil marriage licenses at the courthouse in San Francisco.

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LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer
February 13, 2004

Opponents of gay marriage failed Friday to stop an extraordinary act of ongoing civil disobedience in San Francisco, where under the direction of newly elected Mayor Gavin Newsom, the city has begun issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in defiance of state law.

Weddings appeared likely to continue through the long holiday weekend despite efforts by the Campaign for California Families and the Alliance Defense Fund to stop them.

Superior Court Judge James L. Warren told lawyers for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund that court procedures require them to return at 2 p.m. Tuesday, after the Presidents Day holiday, to properly make their request to stop the city's wedding spree.

The organization represents state Sen. William Knight, author of a ballot initiative approved by voters in 2000 that defined marriage in California as a union between a man and a woman.

Around the country, gays and lesbians emboldened by San Francisco's move and by the constitutional debate over gay marriage in Massachusetts went to courthouses Thursday and Friday demanding their own marriage licenses -- and getting summarily rejected, since every state in the nation bans gay marriage. The "National Freedom to Marry Day" protests have been held every Feb. 12 since 1998.

But in San Francisco, with the mayor's blessing, at least 256 same-sex couples had married as of Friday afternoon. Many of the weddings have taken place in quick civil ceremonies inside the ornate City Hall, with their marriages recorded immediately thereafter in the city assessor's office. City Hall planned to remain open for more marriages Saturday in observance of Valentine's Day.

"I'm not interested as a mayor in moving forward with a separate but unequal process for people to engage in marriages," Newsom said in an interview Friday on ABC News' "Good Morning America." "I think the people of this city and certainly around the state are feeling that separate but unequal doesn't make sense."

Hundreds of same-sex couples began lining up at 4 a.m. Friday, many of them rushing into town from other cities to get married before the courts shut them down.

Mikko Alanne, 31, and his partner Ari Solomon, 27, drove in overnight from West Hollywood, a six-hour trip. "This is the first step towards the state recognizing gay marriage," Allane said. Even though "we won't be recongized outside San Francisco, we are very excited."

San Francisco appears to be the first city in the nation to officially support same-sex marriage licenses; city clerks in Arizona and Colorado in 1975 issued licenses to gay and lesbian couples that were later revoked or declared void.

The city's bold move has caused an outcry from other elected officials and groups opposed to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

"These unlawful certificates aren't worth the paper they are written on," Randy Thomasson, director of the Campaign for California Families, said at a news conference in Los Angeles. "He is a renegade mayor who is acting like he is not a Californian or an American. No one made the mayor of San Francisco king; he can't play God. He cannot trash the vote of the people."

The opposition groups want a Superior Court judge to order the county clerk not to issue any more licenses to same-sex couples, to void any licenses that have been granted, and to require city officials to abide by the rules that govern changes in law.

While it remains unclear what practical value the marriage licenses will carry, their symbolism was self-evident. The ceremonies occurred as Massachusetts lawmakers ended in a stalemate after an impassioned debate on whether to ban gay marriage in response to a ruling by the state's high court that same-sex couples have the right to marry. The Legislature will reconvene March 11.

City officials tried to keep the first marriage -- between longtime lesbian activists Phyllis Lyon, 79, and Del Martin, 83 -- confidential so they could complete it before any court intervention. The pair will celebrate 51 years together on Valentine's Day.

Afterward, Lyon said she "never dreamed" that she and Martin would be wed within their lifetimes, but that she was excited "to make it legal."

Newsom wasn't present at that ceremony, but later presented the couple with a signed copy of the state constitution, with sections related to equal rights highlighted.

"I don't think there is anyone in good conscience who can tell me that denying the same rights my wife Kimberly and I have to same-sex couples is anything but discrimination," said Newsom, who maintains the equal protection clause of the California Constitution obliges the city to grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

The secrecy that surrounded the Lyon-Martin wedding ended up being unnecessary since California courts were closed in observance of Lincoln's Birthday.

The couples rushing to City Hall have paid $82 for the licenses, which don't require a blood test or anything other than proper identification showing the partners are at least 18 years old. The marble passages beneath the building's ornate golden dome have echoed with applause after each couple promises to be "spouses for life" instead of husband and wife.

San Francisco officials acknowledged a long court fight ahead of them. While insisting the licenses are legally binding, officials also issued disclaimers on the newly revised applications encouraging "same-gender couples" to "seek legal advice regarding the effect of entering into marriage."

"Marriage of lesbian and gay couples may not be recognized as valid by any jurisdiction other than San Francisco, and may not be recognized as valid by any employer," the disclaimer said.

Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, formally introduced legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage throughout California on Thursday, then personally officiated at some of the marriages.

"It is a tandem challenge," Leno said of the coming civil rights battle. "One will be heard in a judicial setting, and the other in a legislative setting."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state officials have avoided comment, but Attorney General Bill Lockyer's spokeswoman did note that California's constitution provides broader equal protection rights than other states.

Around the country, other gay and lesbian couples were turned away by court clerks as Thursday's National Freedom to Marry Day protests continued into Friday.

In Richmond, Va., eight couples clutching pink "bride" and blue "groom" applications were denied licenses as legislators three blocks away debated a bill affirming Virginia's ban on same-sex marriages.

"It's a heartbreaker to be rejected," said Mary Gay Hutcherson, who was accompanied by her partner of 10 years, Yolanda Farnum. "But it was empowering. I think we deserve a license from the state of Virginia. And I think someday we will get one."

They also protested in Ohio, where Gov. Bob Taft signed a law last Friday making it the 38th state to officially bar recognition of such unions and the second to deny benefits such as health insurance coverage to unmarried employees' partners.

"It's so easy for people who have something to tell others they can't have it," said Christopher Hoffman turned away in Columbus with his partner of 16 months, Joshua Jacob Wiley. "We don't want to be 'domestic partners.' We want to be husbands."
by Jasmine Resnick
Saturday Feb 21st, 2004 4:39 PM
Its beautiful that your love is now valued and recognized. Wishing you the best in your marriage.
by Katie Grindle
Wednesday Mar 24th, 2004 3:02 PM
Good for all of you!! This is overdue...congrats to everyone!