Today Bittersweet For Same Sex Couples

On the five-year anniversary of the first same-sex marriage in San  Francisco, same-sex couples around the country will be traveling to their  local county clerk's office Thursday to request marriage licenses to raise  awareness of the harms caused by their inability to marry.

The actions are part of National Freedom to Marry Day, which was  created in 1999 by Lambda Legal, a gay rights advocacy law firm.

Marriage Equality USA began its marriage counter actions on the  same date in 2001, and helped contribute to the decision by San Francisco  Mayor Gavin Newsom to allow same-sex couples to marry on Feb. 12, 2004.

Marriage Equality USA Media Director Molly McKay said that  Thursday's actions will be unlike any previous year's because of the  California Supreme Court decision in May 2008 that said the state  constitution provided a right to same-sex marriage. Proposition 8, passed by  voters on Nov. 4, overturned that ruling.

"It's going to be a new and different experience, because so many  of us are now married, but so many of us are now on the chopping block,"  McKay said.

McKay said that people will be in two different lines at the  various county clerk's offices, with "one to get copies of licenses that are  valid, and another for couples that missed the window of opportunity and are  heartbroken that they can't join us."

Marriage Equality USA is joining Join the Impact, a direct action  community group, to engage in the marriage counter actions in at least six  states throughout the country.

Because some county clerk's offices will be closed on Thursday,  the events in San Mateo and Solano counties will take place on Friday, while  the Alameda County event will take place on Saturday. All other Bay Area  marriage counter action events will take place Thursday.

For a list of marriage counter actions happening in the Bay Area  and throughout the country, visit

An event is also being held Thursday night in San Jose to honor  the marriages of more than 18,000 same-sex couples and to stand in solidarity  with couples that want to make a similar commitment but are currently unable  to because of the passage of Proposition 8.

The event, organized by Marriage Equality Silicon Valley, will  take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan Community Church, 65 S. Seventh  St., in San Jose.

A roundtable discussion will also be held on Friday in San  Francisco and will include Phyllis Lyon, one of the first women to be married  in San Francisco in 2004, among other civil rights and religious leaders.

The event is being held at 10:30 a.m. at the National Center for  Lesbian Rights at 870 Market St., Ste. 370.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for  Lesbian Rights, Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, and  the Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, executive director of the California Council of  Churches will be among others taking part in the discussion.

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