Rush for marriage licenses as gay couples tie the knot

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Updated Monday, July 1: Same-sex couples rush to get married in Southern California today. 

More than 500 gay and lesbian couples have applied online to the L.A. County Clerk’s office for marriage licenses since Friday afternoon, when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order allowing same-sex weddings to resume in California. Long lines are expected as people try to obtain marriage licenses in person today. Offices of the County Registrar-Recorder will stay open until 7 p.m.,  three extra hours, to accommodate the crush.

Photo by Neon Tommy
Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo were two of the lead plaintiffs in the Prop 8 challenge. They’ve been together since 1998. Photo by Neon Tommy (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Couples were permitted to tie the knot in San Francisco this weekend, but in L.A. County officials said they simply didn’t have time to prepare. That all changes today, however.

West Hollywood City Council members and other city officials are being temporarily deputized today to perform marriages to help meet the demand. They’ll be sworn in at about 12:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at the West Hollywood Library and then will perform ceremonies from 1 to 7 p.m.  The city will waive its usual fee for wedding ceremonies today.

Backers of Proposition 8 tried unsuccessfully to stop same-sex marriages by making an emergency request to the U.S. Supreme Court this weekend. They argued that the appeals court violated procedural rules. The 9thCircuit usually waits 25 days before acting on a case decided by the Supreme Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy denied the request without comment.

Updated Friday, June 28: With same-sex couples in California suddenly cleared today to resume legal marriages, two Angelenos are likely to be among the first hitched in the state.  Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank were two of the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Proposition 8. They were headed Friday afternoon through L.A. traffic to be married by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“We are about to get married,” Katami told KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis. “If you’d asked us just a few hours ago, we probably would of said ‘No, of course not.’ But here we are on our way down to L.A. City Hall and today is the day, it’s our anniversary day.”

The couple had invited President Barack Obama to their wedding. But with the lifting of the gay marriage ban by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals taking many by surprise, Katami and Zarillo didn’t feel like waiting.

The 9th Circuit Court cleared the way for gay marriage to resume immediately in California. California Attorney General Kamala Harris tweeted:

On my way to S.F. City Hall. Let the wedding bells ring! #Prop8

 The Los Angeles Times reports: 

County clerks who preside over marriages said they were ready for same-sex weddings. Marriage licenses already are gender-neutral, and clerks began receiving calls Wednesday from gay couples wanting to schedule appointments.

Speaking to KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis, Mayor Villaraigosa said he’ll be marrying the plaintiffs in Prop. 8 and possibly some of his staff later this evening. “I just couldn’t be prouder that the 9th circuit finally lifted its stay, so we can start marrying people again,” the mayor said, “I had hoped it would happen on the day the Supreme Court acted.”

Governor Jerry Brown ordered the state Department of Public Health today to notify clerks and registrar/recorders in all 58 California counties to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Phone lines were ringing off the hook at the Los Angeles County Clerk and Registrar/Recorder’s office. Dean Logan heads that office, and spoke to KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis: