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Courtesy of Jim Illig
Larry Dotz (left) and Jim Illig (right) expect to be married July 5 at San Francisco City Hall. Illig is a volunteer wedding commissioner.
For more than 20 years, Jim Illig has performed marriages for others. On Friday afternoon, he will be getting married himself.
The reason that's a pretty big deal is that the 64-year-old will be marrying the "man of his dreams," his longtime domestic partner, Larry Dotz, 53, in the main rotunda of San Francisco City Hall, the spot that touched off the national debate five years ago over same-sex marriage.
This month, the Supreme Court made a historic ruling, paving the way for gay and lesbian couples to marry in California and giving same-sex couples the same federal benefits as any other couple.
For Illig, the whole idea is just "pretty exciting."
"The tables are being turned on me," he told NBC Bay Area in an interview before he tied the knot with Dotz, whom he met just hanging out in San Francisco one Sunday afternoon 26 years ago.
Illig was referencing the fact that since 1993, he has served as a volunteer deputy marriage commissioner, marrying more than 10,000 couples, by his calculations, over that span. He said he was never bitter that others could legally marry and he couldn't. That's because he considered himself married, and always wore a wedding ring, despite the law not recognizing his union.
"I always felt married and told people that I wasn't allowed to do what they were doing," he said.
Now, that the law does recognize his union, he's more than thrilled to wed and reap the state and federal benefits because of it.
"That piece of paper really matters," he said.
When he's not marrying people on Friday afternoons or the weekends, Illig is a community benefit manager for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco and he was the former Director of Government Relations for Project Open Hand and former president of the San Francisco Health Commission. Dotz is the product development and sourcing manager for Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco.
After their ceremony, the two plan to party with their extended families in October.