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San Francisco Lesbian Wedding

Waiting for Marriage Equality

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Marriage Equality
Kathy Belge
My girlfriend and I made history. We were one of the hundreds of gay and lesbian couples who went to San Francisco to get married in February 2004.

Although my partner and I have been together for almost 12 years, we’ve never had a commitment ceremony. We always said that we were going to wait until it was legal. We started to talk about going to Massachusetts, then the Mayor of San Francisco decided to let gay and lesbian couples marry. That did it!

We booked cheap flights and by Saturday evening, we were in San Francisco, on our way to making gay history.

We were at City Hall by 7am on Sunday. We got in line with dozens of other couples. The mood was festive. Couples introduced themselves to each other. Almost everyone had a camera and was taking pictures of friends and strangers. We were all quite aware of the historic event we were about to be a part of.

People came by with candy, flowers and baked goods. One straight couple was handing out picture frames. They said they’d received so many wedding gifts from gay friends that they wanted to give back.

City Hall is normally closed on weekends, but with the help of volunteers, they stayed open on the long holiday weekend, just to marry gay and lesbian couples.

At about 10 am the mayor’s liaison to the gay and lesbian community came out. He lifted his bullhorn and told us that there were too many of us for them to process that day. He said that in a normal day, the City processes about 30 marriages. Since the mayor’s ruling, they issued about 400 licenses a day. Since 320 people had been given tickets to come back and get married from the day before, he said they were only going to process an additional 80 that day. He said the rest of us should go home.

The first 80 couples in line got tickets to marry. We were number 94. Fourteen couples separated us from the revolving door of the San Francisco City Hall where gay and lesbian weddings were being performed. We didn’t budge. We came all the way to San Francisco to get married and we weren’t leaving until we were. Our spirits were still high. I knew deep down that I would leave there married.

We waited. The sun came out. We basked. We got to know our neighbors. Wendy and Lori, from Southern California have traveled to everyplace on this continent that same-sex unions are recognized and tied the knot. They had a civil union in Vermont, a commitment ceremony in Hawaii, a marriage in Vancouver, BC and a domestic partnership in California.

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