Same Sex Couples tie the knot in California

17 Jun 2008

Dozens of gay couples were married after a landmark ruling making California the second US state to allow same-sex nuptials went into effect.

At least five county clerks around the state extended their hours to issue marriage licences, and many same-sex couples got married on the spot.

"These are not folks who just met each other last week and said, 'Let's get married'. These are folks who have been together in some cases for decades," said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Centre for Lesbian Rights.

The May 15 California Supreme Court ruling overturning bans on same-sex marriage took effect at 5:01pm (0001 Irish time).

The really big rush to the altar was not expected to take place until later today, which is when most counties planned to start issuing marriage licences to gay couples.

In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom, who helped launch the series of lawsuits that led the court to strike down California's one-man-one-woman marriage laws, presided at the wedding of Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84.

Mr Newsom picked the couple for the only ceremony in City Hall in recognition of their long relationship and their status as pioneers of the gay rights movement.

More than 600 same-sex couples have made appointments to get marriage licences in San Francisco over the next 10 days.

Ms Martin sat in her wheelchair during the ceremony in Mr Newsom's office, which was open to a few elected officials, reporters and friends.

After the mayor pronounced them "spouses for life," the couple kissed, drawing huge applause.

Mr Newsom called officiating the wedding "this extraordinary and humbling gift".

Meanwhile outside City Hall, a crowd of well-wishers gathered to wish the happy couple congratulations.

A handful of people opposed to gay marriage were also there. Some held signs with statements including "Jesus said go and sin no more."

from Irish Examiner online

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