Today’s News: Gay, lesbian couples in rush to the altar; Firefighter tragedy felt in So Cal; Dwight taking flight?

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Wedding bells. Gay and lesbian couples around Southern California have been in a hurry to make up for lost time. Scores of same-sex weddings took place yesterday in L.A. County, and Registrar offices were deluged by couples seeking marriage licenses.

County officials weren’t prepared to begin performing same-sex marriages on Friday when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its ban, several weeks earlier than had been anticipated. But yesterday was a different story: Demand for marriage ceremonies was so high in West Hollywood that county officials deputized council members to allow them to perform weddings. L.A. County issued a total of 621 marriage licenses and conducted more than 100 civil ceremonies at county offices in Norwalk. Business was also hopping in Orange County, where the Clerk’s office performed about 70 civil wedding ceremonies – more than double the normal for an average Monday. Up and down the state, from Shasta to Tulare and San Francisco, gay couples rushed to the altar yesterday.

It was the first chance for most of the state’s gay and lesbian couples to marry since 2008, when about 18,000 marriages went forward during a brief window before Proposition 8 was passed. The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to rule on an appeal of a California court decision that struck down Prop. 8, opening the door for same-sex marriages to resume. L.A. Times

Firefighting tragedy. Four Southern California families are mourning the deaths of young men who died battling an Arizona wildfire this week. Nineteen firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed when the winds shifted and they became trapped by the flames north of Phoenix. The dead included 21-year-old Kevin Woyjeck, the son of L.A. County Fire Captain Joe Woyjeck; 26-year-old Sean Misner of Santa Barbara County; and 25-year-old William Warneke and 30-year-old Chris McKenzie, who both grew up in Hemet. KNBC

Day one. As promised, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti opened the doors of his City Hall office to average folks on his first official day on the job. Dozens of people took advantage of the opportunity to meet the new mayor. One of the top subjects of conversation was the state of city streets. Garcetti says he supports putting a measure on the city ballot for fixing potholes and repaving rutted roads. Garcetti also held a business roundtable, inviting representatives from many of the regions’ smaller chambers of commerce. Notably absent were three heavyweight business groups: The L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce; The Central City Association and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. All three groups endorsed Wendy Greuel. L.A. Daily News

Systematic discrimination. The U.S. Department of Justice is demanding that L.A. County and the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster pay $12.5 million to Antelope Valley residents who were victims of harassment and discrimination. The demand stems from an investigation that found officials systemically discriminated against African Americans who received low-income subsidized housing. The investigation also found that deputies in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department conducted unlawful searches of homes and used excessive force while making arrests of African Americans. L.A. Times

No slam dunk. It’s not often the Lakers are in the position of having to woo one of their own players: But that’s the scenario today as the team makes it’s pitch to keep free-agent center Dwight Howard in purple and gold. When the Lakers acquired Howard last year in a trade for Andrew Bynum, they were counting on the seven time All-Star to anchor the team for the next decade. But so far, Howard has refused to commit to the Lakers. The 6’11” center has already met this week with several teams vying for his services. He’ll be meeting with Lakers brass today. ESPN