City Hall a joyful, serene wedding chapel

The joyful energy of weddings permeated the cold stones of City Hall on Tuesday, filling the government building with warmth, smiles and tears during the first full day of same-sex marriages in San Francisco and across California.

Accompanied by a serenade of music from stringed instruments that played through most of the day, enthusiastic cheers punctuated marriage ceremonies held in different corners and floors of the historic building, often simultaneously.

Although a handful of same-sex marriages took place in some counties Monday evening — after a state Supreme Court ruling in support of same-sex weddings took effect — Tuesday was the first full day for same-sex couples to get married and hundreds took advantage of the historic opportunity.

The first marriage in San Francisco on Tuesday morning was Brad Akin, 47, and Paul Hill, 54.

Hill told onlookers they should imagine being allowed to have something you had been told all your life you could not have.

“You run out and get it as soon as you can,” Hill said.

The atmosphere at City Hall on Tuesday was exuberant but more orderly than in 2004, when Mayor Gavin Newsom unexpectedly authorized the county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Those marriages were later declared invalid by the courts.

This time, couples had time to prepare for the weddings since the California Supreme Court ruled May 15 that same-sex marriage bans violated the state constitution.

The “pent-up demand” will likely drive up same-sex marriage numbers during the next two weeks, said Kate Kendell, executive director of the NationalCenter for Lesbian Rights.

A recent UCLA study estimated that more than 50,000 same-sex couples living in California would marry within the next three years.

Such assumptions presume that gay couples will still be able to marry within that time frame. A ballot measure to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman will be before voters in November. If it passes, it would overturn the ruling of the state Supreme Court.

The November ballot measure may increase the number of weddings, Kendell said.

“Were we not facing the ballot measure, I think many of the couples getting married over the next few months would be getting married a year from now,” she said.

The San Francisco County Clerk’s Office is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will hold those hours until at least June 27, the Friday before the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade, according to city official Mike Farrah.

dsmith@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

A felled tree in Sydney G. Walton Square blocks part of a lane on Front Street following Sunday’s storm on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
After the rain: What San Francisco learned from a monster storm

Widespread damage underscored The City’s susceptibility to heavy wind and rain

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

A felled tree in San Francisco is pictured on Fillmore Street following a major storm that produced high winds and heavy rains on Oct. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philip Ford)
Storm updates: Rainiest October day in San Francisco history

Rainfall exceeded 10 inches in parts of the Bay Area

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
Whistleblowing hasn’t worked at the SF Dept. of Building Inspection

DBI inspectors say their boss kept them off connected builders’ projects

Most Read