Dozens of gay couples lined up outside City Hall in San Francisco before 9 a.m. Saturday as clerks resumed issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said City Hall would be open this weekend so that couple could take advantage of a federal appeals court ruling that cleared the way for the state of California to immediately lift a 4-year freeze on same-sex marriages.
Long lines stretched down the lobby as couples tied the knot during what was already a planned annual Gay Pride weekend.
In the middle of the day a potential wrench was thrown in the party when proponents of Prop 8 filed a petition to overturn the Ninth Circuit ruling. Most legal experts did not give much legal weight to the legal challenge.
Petra Torri, 32, and Antoinette Torri, 31, were among the couple getting married Saturday. They said they their Sonoma home at 5 a.m. so they could be the first couple in line. They said they wanted to get married in the off chance that the courts suddenly put a halt to the weddings. "You have the feeling in your mind they're going to take it away on Monday, so it's like, 'Let's go!''' Petra Torri said.
The lines were short by the afternoon. Clerks said no matter what, no one would be turned away Saturday.
The same-sex marriages began Friday night at 4:45 p.m. when State Attorney General Kamala Harris presided at the wedding of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, of Berkeley. The two were married on the second floor balcony of City Hall as a crowd gathered around, including dozens of reporters and photographers.
The public ceremony marked the resumption of same-sex unions in the country's most populous state. California is now the 13th state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow same-sex marriages.
Harris declared Perry, 48, and Stier, 50, "spouses for life."
Perry and Stier, who were joined by one of their sons, Elliott Perry, as ringbearer, said they plan to have another family celebration later so that all their family members can attend. "What we wanted so desperately was for our sons to know that we love them enough to fight to be married," Perry said following the ceremony. And for everyone else still fighting to get married, Perry said, "we will fight with you."
Friday’s unexpected court order makes marriage available to some 98,000 same-sex couples living in California.
It comes after Perry and Stier sued to overturn the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban along with Jeff Katami and Paul Zarrillo, of Burbank.
Katami and Zarrillo also got married Friday at Los Angeles City Hall.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who as San Francisco's mayor in 2004 had ordered the issuance of the state's first same-sex marriage licenses, was in Sacramento when the court order came down and had to fight Friday traffic on his way back to the City to help celebrate.
"Same-sex marriage is now the law in California!," Gov. Jerry Brown tweeted after the federal appellate court order came down Friday afternoon.
The Ninth Circuit's order came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on a case on California’s Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure which had declared same-sex marriage illegal in the state. In a 5-4 ruling Wednesday, the Court decided Prop 8 backers lacked standing under federal law to appeal the case, effectively leaving in place an earlier ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.
San Francisco City Hall on Friday was scheduled to marry couples until at least 8 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
So excited! San Francisco City Hall open until 8 p.m. tonight for all couples wanting to marry!!! — Edwin Lee (@mayoredlee) June 28, 2013
Meanwhile, Andy Pugno, general counsel for the ProtectMarriage.com coalition, said in a statement: "This outrageous act tops off a chronic pattern of lawlessness, throughout this case, by judges and politicians hell-bent on thwarting the vote of the people to redefine marriage by any means, even outright corruption.”
The Group Save California called Friday's marriages "counterfeit" and said that "major" hurdles remained before same-sex marriages could legally begin.
"If counterfeit marriage licenses are issued now, they will be null and void later," the group''s statement read.
Despite the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' unprecedented rush to lift the stay on homosexual "marriages," major hurdles remain before two men or two women can obtain marriage licenses anywhere in California."
As usual, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, and the Ninth Circuit are trampling the state constitution and the voters by ignoring the legal hurdles and limits of implementing Judge Walker's homosexual 'marriages' ruling," said Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, which promotes moral virtues for the common good.
"No homosexual 'marriage' should be legally occurring without due process of law. If counterfeit marriage licenses are issued now, they will be null and void later."
"Specifically, there is no valid appellate court ruling that the voter-approved Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, and there is a set limit to the jurisdiction of the trial court that originally ruled against Prop. 8," Thomasson said. "Until these hurdles are are legally overcome, Prop. 8 and natural, man-woman marriage is still the law of the land."