(Editor's note: This article has been updated to correctly identify the first same-gender couple to marry since Prop 8 was struck down. As expected, things were hectic this morning, with action taking place in the Clerk's Office and elsewhere on the vast County Administration grounds.)
SAN DIEGO – Gay and lesbian couples, some of whom have waited years for this moment, got hitched Monday morning after the San Diego County Clerk’s Office finally began issuing marriage licenses.
SDGLN Staff Writer Ben Cartwright reported seeing lines of same-gender couples waiting at the County Clerk’s Office this morning, which was busy issuing marriage licenses, taking appointments and preparing to witness weddings.
Susan Hartman and Stephanie Torres (UPPER RIGHT and TOP LEFT PHOTOs) had the honor of being the first same-gender couple to marry in San Diego since the demise of California’s Proposition 8. Longtime marriage-equality activist Fernando Lopez Jr. married the couple, dressed in blue Hawaiian shirts, shorts and sandals, in the outdoor wedding alcove outside the County Administration Building downtown.
Hartman, who is a local attorney, and Torres have been together for 21 years and are well-known in the local community.
Joseph Bruglio (white shirt) and Chris Harris (MIDDLE LEFT PHOTO), among the first in line, were smiling broadly as they waited to apply for their marriage license. The pair have a large wedding ceremony planned for Aug. 10.
Allan DeValle and Peter Trevino (BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO) have been together for 18 years, and the musicians said they are glad to get married today. They met in Hawaii and have rings that are engraved with "Song Without End."
DeValle said that it feels "peaceful" to be able to get married today and recalled having a dream last Tuesday night, in advance of the Supreme Court's rulings that legalized same-gender marriages in California, that foreshadowed what was to come.
"In my dream, I saw an endless stream of gay men pulling into a station, and there was an overwhelming feeling that they were finally arriving," DeValle recalled.
Cartwright also got to sit in on the wedding of community activist Gabriela Rodriguez and her partner Jamie Gardner. The pair exchanged rings during the brief ceremony in the County's weddings office, and embraced after they were wed. The County official who performed the wedding, seemed pleased to be able to perform weddings for all people now, but stumbled on the words "wife" and "partner" during the ceremony.
Watch a video from their wedding below:
Rodriguez and Gardner are having a larger wedding ceremony at 3 pm Saturday, July 13 in the San Diego Pride Festival's Wedding Chapel area. Other couples who wish to set an appointment to perform their wedding at this year's Pride festival need to arrange for their own officiant and will be able to sign up for a 15-minute slot later this week.
San Diego did not allow same-gender couples to marry on Friday afternoon, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay that had prevented District Judge Vaughn Walker's historic ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional from taking effect. The lifting of the stay prompted marriages to begin in San Francisco, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Dozens of couples rushed to the San Diego County Clerk's Office, but were denied licenses despite efforts by community leaders to get the clerk to issue them. The flimsy excuse was that the clerk contended that the office has not yet received direction from the state on when to proceed. One local TV reporter waved a copy of the state's directive during a 5 pm Friday news broadcast to dispute the clerk.
On Saturday, anti-gay supporters of Prop 8 filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Supreme Court in a last-ditch effort to halt marriages, but on Sunday that motion was denied by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who handles motions regarding the Ninth Circuit.