Wedded bliss delayed for couples waiting at City Hall

Instead of marriage vows, Kristin Orbin, her partner of five years and their friends had to settle for a blessing in front of Harvey Milk’s statue at City Hall.

But when a carefree heterosexual bride and groom swept past them for a photo at the top of the City Hall stairs, it was more than she could take. The tears poured out. Her best man sat down and cried.

“We were absolutely ready to get married today. Not next week — today,” she said through the tears. “It just crushes my heart a little bit.”

The ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker that the stay on same-sex marriages should be removed next week was cold comfort for dozens of couples who took off work and waited in line for hours in hopes of counting among the first to sign their marriage licenses.

Couples began arriving at City Hall at 4:30 a.m. By 8:15 a.m., a line had started in the long marble hallway leading up to the County Clerk’s Office.

By noon, there were roughly three dozen couples.

Rumors of the ruling that marriages would happen filtered among the group around 12:30 p.m., causing an eruption of joyous shouts and tears. But scarcely 10 minutes later, a man reading the ruling off of his iPad informed the crowd that the stay on same-sex marriages would remain in place until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Orbin, who wore a white summer dress and white jacket for the occasion, said having to wait another week wouldn’t affect her relationship with her partner. The couple have been together for five years after meeting and unexpectedly falling in love at a fundamentalist church in Coalinga.

Her partner, Teresa Rowe, 31, said they considered marrying in 2008 — when it was legal for about six months before Proposition 8 passed and banned same-sex marriage — but decided to postpone due to health-related concerns.

Now, they are past ready. The couple said they may camp out in front of City Hall on Tuesday night to be among first in line at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Orbin said she’s tired of waiting on someone else’s timeline.

“We’re done asking for equality; we demand equality,” she said.

Rowe gave a wry smile to her partner and teased her.

“[Orbin] always says she identifies as my spoiled princess,” Rowe said. “Well, don’t mess with a princess on her wedding day.”

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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