The Commercial Appeal

Gay weddings begin in Calif. after court ruling

- By Lisa Leff

SAN FRANCISCO — The lead plaintiffs in the U. S. Supreme Court case that overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban tied the knot at San Francisco City Hall on Friday, about an hour after a federal appeals court freed same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses for the first time in 4 ½ years.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris presided at the wedding of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, of Berkeley, as hundreds of supporters looked on and cheered. The couple sued to overturn the state’s voter-approved gay marriage ban along with Jeff Katami and Paul Zarrillo, of Burbank, who planned to marry Friday evening at

Los Angeles City Hall.

“By joining the case against Propositio­n 8, they represente­d thousands of couples like themselves in their fight for marriage equality,” Harris, who had asked the appeals court to act swiftly, said during Stier and Perry’s brief ceremony. “Through the ups and downs, the struggles and the triumphs, they came out victorious.”

Harris declared Perry, 48, and Stier, 50, “spouses for life,” but during their vows, they took each other as “lawfully wedded wife.” One of their twin sons served as ring-bearer.

Although the couple have fought for the right to wed for years, their wedding came together in a flurry when a threejudge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order Friday afternoon dissolving, “effective immediatel­y,” a stay it imposed on gay marriages while the lawsuit challengin­g the ban advanced through the courts.

Sponsors of California’s same-sex marriage ban called the appeals court’s swift action “outrageous.”

“The resumption of same-sex marriage this day has been obtained by illegitima­te means. If our opponents rejoice in achieving their goal in a dishonorab­le fashion, they should be ashamed,” said Andy Pugno, general counsel for a coalition of religious conservati­ve groups that sponsored Propositio­n 8.

“It remains to be seen whether the fight can go on, but either way, it is a disgracefu­l day for California,” Pugno said.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Wednesday that Propositio­n 8’s sponsors lacked authority to defend the measure in court once Harris and Gov. Jerry Brown, both Democrats, refused to do so.

The decision lets stand a trial judge’s declaratio­n that the ban, approved by voters in November 2008, violates the civil rights of gay California­ns and cannot be enforced.

Under Supreme Court rules, the losing side in a legal dispute has 25 days to ask the high court to rehear the case. The court said earlier this week that it would not finalize its ruling in the Propositio­n 8 case until after that time had elapsed.

It was not immediatel­y clear whether the appeals court’s action would be halted by the high court, but Gov. Jerry Brown directed California counties to start performing samesex marriages immediatel­y in the wake of it.

A memo from Brown’s Department of Public Health said “same-sex marriage is again legal in California” and ordered county clerks to resume issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

Given that word did not come down from the appeals court until midafterno­on, most counties were not prepared to stay open late to accommodat­e potential crowds. The clerks in a few counties announced that they would stay open a few hours later Friday.

A jubilant San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced that same-sex couples would be able to marry all weekend in his city, which is hosting its annual gay pride celebratio­n this weekend.

 ?? JEFF CHIU / ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Kris Perry (left) and Sandy Stier celebrate their marriage at City Hall in San Francisco Friday. Stier and Perry were married after a federal appeals court on Friday cleared the way for the state of California to immediatel­y resume issuing marriage    ...
JEFF CHIU / ASSOCIATED PRESS Kris Perry (left) and Sandy Stier celebrate their marriage at City Hall in San Francisco Friday. Stier and Perry were married after a federal appeals court on Friday cleared the way for the state of California to immediatel­y resume issuing marriage ...

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