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Santa Clara County Performs Same Gender Marriage Ceremonies
by Rose Ketabchi (rose [at] kpfa.org)
Tuesday Jun 17th, 2008 6:56 PM
Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager presided over the first two same-gender marriages in his office at 9am this morning. on average, the County of Santa Clara Clerk-Recorder's office performs 12 marriages a day, but on this day, that number had already been surpassed by noon. Rose Ketabchi filed this report from San Jose. (4.04)
Last month, the Supreme Court overturned a ban on gay marriage. The ruling took effect Monday evening and this morning, same-gender couples eager to get hitched poured into the clerk's office to get their marriage licenses. Some waited to be married in one of the two chapels set up by the county. On her way out, one beaming newlywed said, “We're raised to believe in marriage. Words have power.”
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That was Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, marrying Tina Salas and Kathleen Chavez Salas. The two have been together for 21 years. They're one of the 4,000 couples who got married in 2004 but later had that marriage voided by the Supreme Court.
Rosa Guerrero and Debbie Suster got married today but a year ago when Suster had a heart attack, Guerrero says she was afraid that the two wouldn't be recognized as a couple by medical staff. This means that Guerrero officially had no say about decisions regarding Suster's treatment. Legally, she had the status of a stranger, even when her partner of 28 years wasn't able to speak for herself.
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This reporter did not observe any signs of protest at today's marriages. Madeline Damiano has a theory. She says probably, many of the people who showed up in 2004 to protest gay marriage have since learned about the gay people in their inner circles or in their own families. One sign this reporter did see was on the window of a law office nearby that read, “Vow to vote no on the ban on marriage.” Madeline Damiano and her partner Gilda Desimone-Groccia aren't married yet. Damiano says now that it's a real legal option, they'll decide on the best way to do it. Damiano says her partner, Gilda, is the first person her family has ever fully embraced as her partner. The two say that this family support has added stability to their lives that many gay couples so far, haven't been allowed to enjoy.
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In downtown Fresno, over one hundred LGBT couples waited to get married or get their marriage licenses. The first people to wed were African American -a lesbian couple of ten years. In November, California voters will decide whether to ban same-gender marriages with a Constitutional Amendment. Supervisor Yeager says he's feeling optimistic about how people will vote in November's election.
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Here's Hannah Paul who did get married this morning, to her wife, Ronnie Paul.
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Reporting from San Jose for KPFA, I'm Rose Ketabchi. Thanks to Mike Rhodes in Fresno, who also contributed to this report.
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This reportopen-radioThursday Jun 19th, 2008 10:32 AM