Gay couples rush to wed in California before election

SAN FRANCISCO — Gay couples from around California and the nation are feverishly tying the knot ahead of Election Day to avoid missing out if voters approve a ballot initiative aimed at banning same-sex marriage.

Aaron Twitchell and Orlando Manzo from Austin, Texas, waited two months for an appointment to get a marriage license in San Francisco. When they got to the city clerk’s office, the line of people ahead of them was so long they worried they would be late for their own wedding.

“We are so happy California is so progressive they would allow something like this,” said Manzo, 33, as his partner of nine years recently watched the clock and held a Tiffany’s bag with their platinum rings inside. “I wouldn’t say it’s now or never, but we wanted to get married before then.”

The urgency intensified last week with news that Proposition 8’s supporters had far outraised its opponents and the measure was gaining support in public opinion polls.

“Couples are making their plans to come in before November 4 because people are getting a little uneasy,” said San Francisco Clerk-Recorder Karen Hong Lee. “It’s too close to call, basically, and it’s legal right now, so why wait? Why take the chance and say, ‘Let’s get married on November 5?’”

Proposition 8 would amend the state constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman. If approved, it would overturn a California Supreme Court ruling that made the state only the second, after Massachusetts, to legalize same-sex marriage. On Friday in Connecticut, the state Supreme Court ruled the state would be the third to allow gay marriage.

Since same-sex marriage became legal in California in mid-June, at least 11,000 couples have exchanged vows statewide, according to the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy based at the University of California, Los Angeles. That’s more than the 10,400 gay and lesbian couples who have wed in Massachusetts since gay marriage was legalized there in May 2004, according to the institute.

The demand for same-sex marriage licenses has proven so great in San Francisco that Hong doubled the number of daily reservations her office accepts each day. And she assigned a second marriage commissioner to perform weddings.

Even so, the office is booked solid through Oct. 21 for license appointments and has no more coveted Friday ceremony slots available between now and the election.

Apprehension over the forthcoming ballot initiative has taken a toll on many couples she knows, said psychotherapist Davina Kotulski.

“In any relationship, there is the pressure of where is this going. Do you commit now? Do you commit later?” she said. “But when you have a very small window of opportunity, it definitely adds increased pressure, and that could break up a couple before they make it to the altar.”

Although California Attorney General Jerry Brown has said he does not think marriages solemnized through Nov. 4 would become void if the measure passes, gay marriage opponents could try to litigate the matter. So some couples have decided to wait until after the election instead of putting themselves through such uncertainty.

Another unknown is whether same-sex marriages performed after the election would automatically not be recognized by the state. Allie Schembra, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state, said Proposition 8 would become effective the day after the election if it passes.

But county clerks say that because it usually takes a month for election results to be certified as final, they do not plan to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until they are directed by the state health department, which oversees marriage records.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Monroe in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Police: Monroe hit and run suspect arrested for 2 DUIs in 3 hours

The driver had just been arrested and released for a DUI, when he allegedly ran a red light and crashed into a pickup.

Everett
Man hurt in house fire east of Everett

The home in the 12400 block of 51st Avenue SE was reported on fire at 12:54 a.m.

A wanted suspect was arrested after a standoff with law enforcement Tuesday night. (Bothell Police Department)
Kidnapping suspect arrested after standoff in Bothell

A large police presence contained the property in the 20500 block of 32nd Dr. SE on Tuesday night.

Community Transit's Lynnwood microtransit pilot project is set to launch this fall with a service area around the Alderwood mall. (Community Transit)
Lynnwood’s microtransit test begins this fall, others possible

Community Transit could launch other on-demand services in Arlington, Darrington and Lake Stevens.

Doctor Thomas Robey sits in a courtyard at Providence Regional Medical Center on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘It’d be a miracle’: Providence tests new treatment for meth addiction

Monoclonal antibodies could lead to the first drug designed to fight meth addiction. Everett was chosen due to its high meth use.

Rev. Barbara Raspberry, dressed in her go-to officiating garments, sits in the indoor chapel at her home, the Purple Wedding Chapel, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Everett, Washington. The space used to be two bedrooms, but she and her husband Don took down a wall converted them into a room for wedding ceremonies the day after their youngest son moved out over 20 years ago. The room can seat about 20 for in-person ceremonies, plus it serves as a changing room for brides and is the setting for virtual weddings that Raspberry officiates between brides and their incarcerated fiancees at the Monroe Correctional Complex. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s oh-so-colorful Purple Wedding Chapel is in the red

Rev. Rasberry has hitched hundreds of couples over the years. After her husband died, she’s unsure if she can keep the place.

Everett
Man dies in motorcycle crash that snarled I-5 in Everett

Washington State Patrol: he tried to speed by another driver but lost control and hit the shoulder barrier.

x
Edmonds Library continues as rooftop pop-up

For now, the building is still shuttered from a June flood.

A performer with Up Up Up, a touring circus on a flatbed truck with a crane for aerial acts. (Submitted photo)
Double fun in Everett with a big truck circus, big screen movie

Up Up Up circus returns to Hewitt at 6 p.m. “Encanto” at the Sail-in Cinema at the waterfront is at 8:25 p.m.

Most Read