Same-Sex Couples "Overwhelmed" at West Hollywood Marriage Ceremonies

At least 40 same-sex couples were signed up to be married in West Hollywood before the ceremonies began.

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    West Hollywood city leaders are temporarily deputized so they could perform same-sex marriage ceremonies on Monday, July 1, 2013.

    Members of the West Hollywood City Council were temporarily deputized Monday so they could perform same-sex marriage ceremonies just days after a federal appeals court lifted a stay allowing gay marriage to resume in California.

    The civil marriage ceremonies were being performed for free on a first-come, first-served basis from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the West Hollywood Library at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Couples were required to have a license issued by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

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    “People are overwhelmed and happy and really excited,” said Corey Schaffer, West Hollywood’s city clerk. “I think there’s the sense that this is a moment in history and we’re all a part of it.”

    To help the process, the city was offering free parking at its five-story parking structure and free shuttle service between the City Council chambers and the closest Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk branch in Beverly Hills.

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    “Our feeling was that we knew a lot of couples would want to come to West Hollywood for a ceremony and we wanted to make it as easy as possible that if they wanted to get married, to get married today,” Schaeffer said.

    “We had at least 40 couples signed up before we started,” Schaffer added.

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    The festive mood was briefly disrupted earlier in the day when one person stood up in the City Council chambers in protest of the scheduled marriages, saying, "What about the voters who protested twice?”

    A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday issued a brief order lifting a stay ordered in 2012 that had allowed time for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2010, a federal trial court judge found California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional, a finding that was upheld by the 9th Circuit.

    The appellate court order came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the Prop 8 case, effectively paving the way for same-sex unions in California.

    The city of Los Angeles stayed open late Friday to hold California’s first marriage ceremony just hours after the stay was lifted. The city said the costs would be minimal because many staffers do not receive overtime pay.

    West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran said spending taxpayer dollars for the ceremonies it planned Monday would be worth the cost.

    “With 40 percent of our population being gay and lesbian, it’s well within what we should be doing for our residents,” Duran said.

    Opponents of same-sex marriage said society will pay a steeper price. Many are upset the usual 25-day waiting period on Supreme Court decisions was ignored and said same-sex marriages will have deeper consequences.

    “There’s many things that are changing socially and the effect is not easy to see, but humankind, for centuries, we have had mom and dad, and changing that tendency is going to have an effect, and they don’t know the effect,“ said Pastor Netz Gomez, a spokesman for ProtectMarriage.

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