After 4.5 Years, Same-Sex Marriage Resumes in California

Same-sex couples in the Southland and across the state were cleared today to get married, with a federal appeals court lifting a stay it had placed on the unions while the battle over Proposition 8 was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nation's highest court ruled Wednesday that supporters of Proposition 8 -- the voter-approved measure that banned same-sex marriage in California -- lacked the proper standing to appeal a lower-court ruling declaring the measure unconstitutional.

The ruling allowed the original federal court ruling to stand, striking down Prop. 8.

But the resumption of weddings was left on hold because of an earlier stay that had been issued by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals while the case was pending. Although it initially appeared that same-sex couples would have to wait about 25 days before the stay would be lifted, the 9th Circuit issued a one-sentence order today reading, "The stay in the above matter is dissolved effective immediately."

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In response, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an order calling on counties across the state to immediately resume same-sex marriages. He wrote on his Twitter page, "Same-sex marriage is now the law in California!"

The first same-sex wedding in the Los Angeles area was scheduled to take place at 6:15 p.m. at City Hall between Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami -- a Burbank couple and two of the plaintiffs in the federal case that led to the demise of Prop. 8. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was expected to officiate.

Two other plaintiffs in the case, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, were married late this afternoon at San Francisco City Hall, with state Attorney General Kamala Harris presiding.

After the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling was released Wednesday, Harris had called on the 9th Circuit to immediately lift the stay. Under federal court rules, however, there is generally a 25-day period to allow proponents of Prop. 8 to seek a re-hearing before the Supreme Court.

With the 9th Circuit lifting the stay, however, Harris quickly wrote on her Twitter page, "On my way to (San Francisco) City Hall. Let the wedding bells ring!"

Dean Logan, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, said he was standing with Zarrillo and Katami shortly after 4 p.m. when he received a call from Harris instructing him to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

According to Logan's office, the number of deputized marriage commissioners has been increased in anticipation of increased demand, and some extended hours will be offered at some district offices.

Marriage licenses in Los Angeles County can be obtained online at https://marriage.lavote.net/OMLS. Couples are encouraged to fill out the application online and bring the confirmation page to the clerk's office, along with the $90 license fee. The fee for a civil marriage ceremony is $25.

The clerk's main office in Norwalk will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the third Thursday of the month, the office is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pre-scheduled, pre-paid ceremonies will also be performed on Wednesdays and Fridays at county clerk offices in East Los Angeles, Florence/Firestone, Lancaster, the Airport Courthouse, and Van Nuys. Ceremonies will be performed at the Beverly Hills Courthouse on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The clerk's office is also partnering with West Hollywood and Long Beach to provide ceremonies.

In Orange County, branch offices of the County Clerk-Recorder's Office in Fullerton and Laguna Hills will reopen at 9 a.m. Monday, and the Old Orange County Courthouse office in Santa Ana will open at 8 a.m.

The office's Jean Pasco said if the offices get busy with a crunch of same-sex couples, some staff assigned to other duties are "cross-trained" to conduct marriages and can step in to meet the demand.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, praised the 9th Circuit for lifting the stay.

"This has been an historic week in California, not only for the LGBT community whose rights have been restored, but for people of conscience all over our state, and I appreciate the court's unwavering commitment to justice in this case," said Perez, who is openly gay.

On his Twitter page, West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran found some humor in the court's action, writing, "9th Circuit lifts stay on marriage licenses. You can get married now -- but don't rush into anything! Gay divorce is also possible!"

About the Author

City News Service is an independent wire service that serves Los Angeles area news outlets. Posts identifying them in a byline means KCET-TV has used their story, either in full or close to full.

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