Gay Marriage in California!

Day One
Guest Blogger: Lisa Berg

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Beverly Hills District Office of the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk

It was amazing. It was exciting. It was history! I went to the Beverly Hills District Office of the L.A. County Registrar Recorders office to be a part of the very first day that any homosexual couples could actually apply for and legally receive a marriage license. It was surreal to see how many people felt free to proclaim their love in the sunshine, free of fear. I grew up in a time when a public display of affection by lesbians or gay men was an invitation to violence. There was no such fear today. The mood in the building was positively giddy. There were dozens of couples waiting patiently in line to be a part of this historic day. Here are just a few of the incredible people I met today…

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Scott and Gary were the first two men I ran into this morning. They’ve been together for nine years now and Scott is beside himself with excitement about today’s nuptials. When I ask what the social atmosphere was like for them when they first realized they were gay Scott answers by saying that Gary’s father is a Southern Baptist Minister. They immediately bring it back to present day and tell me that they have 2 young sons at home that are one and three years old and they are so excited to be able to be married for themselves and for the boys.

In line behind Scott and Gary were Charley and Mark. They’ve been partners for fourteen years. They become fast friends with Scott and Gary and another couple waiting to get married. The six of them decide to be official witnesses for each other. After the three marriages take place they exchange email addresses and make plans to get together later in the day.

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Charley and Mark

I then met two youngsters, Errica and Oshea. They have been a couple for one and a half years and are here to make it permanent. They were a reminder to me of what the County Clerk probably sees most on any other day – young lovers making a lifelong commitment. In retrospect, unlike Errica and Oshea, most of those waiting in line have been waiting for this for most of their lives… couples like Becky and Natasha.

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Oshea and Errica

Becky and Natasha have been partners for twelve years now and they seem relieved to finally be able to be considered equal in the eyes of the law. I spoke at length with Becky who said she never thought she would see this day in her lifetime. She also expressed a deep respect for the Supreme Court for the courage of their decision. When I asked what it was like for them when they first realized their orientation, Becky said, “There were no role models back then.” Then, referring to the coverage of the marriage of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon on the news yesterday, Becky commented, “To see a 55 year relationship finally being honored for what it is, was inspiring.” I ask if they will marry today. They say their plans are to marry on August 2nd since that is their anniversary date, but they wanted to be here to get their license today.

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Natasha and Becky

As I talked to others in the room I met David and Jim. They have been registered domestic partners for 7 years, but they have been life partners for thirty seven years! When I asked what this means to them to be able to marry Jim told me, “Nothing. It doesn’t mean anything.” Confused I asked then why were they doing it. He said they have to…for financial reasons. You see, after 37 years together they are looking for some added financial security that comes with the marriage certificate. It (obviously) doesn’t change anything about their emotional relationship or their commitment to each other. What it does change, in Jim’s words, is that they are no longer second class citizens.

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David and Jim

Noticeably absent from the scene today was any opposition displays. No picketers, no banners, no demonstrations, no negative displays of any kind. Maybe we got lucky or maybe they chose a different location. No matter. I don’t think there was anything that could have dampened the spirits of the people here today. I’m so glad I was able to be in the midst of history in the making. As I write this my partner and I have already applied for our license with plans to marry on September 1st to commemorate the 29th anniversary of our first commitment ceremony.

See the June 3 blog entry below, “Marriage–Again–New Photos,” for photos of Lisa and her partner!

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2 responses to “Gay Marriage in California!

  1. I’m just sorry that Mass. beat us to it. I’m a straight man married for almost 21 years and I am very proud to me a Californian. We are leading the way for the whole country to recognize and legalize gay and lesbian marriage. It is about time.

  2. Jimi,
    Really glad that California caught up with us. Now I hope that some other states will join us. With CA and MA offering gay marriage and NY recognizing gay marriages that take place in other states and countries, we now are making progress. May Connecticut be next!

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