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 http://www.marriageequalitymedia.org/2009/02/partial-list-of-marriage-counter-events.html.
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.