California’s first legal same-sex wedding

June 17th, 2008 - 5:34 pm ICT by IANS  

San Francisco, June 17 (DPA) California officials have conducted the state’s first court-sanctioned same-sex marriages, joining in matrimony two lesbian couples who had played prominent roles in securing gay marriage rights. Phyllis Lyon, 83, and Del Martin, 87, were the first couple married by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom Monday evening.

The couple have been together for 55 years and are regarded as pioneers in the national movement for gay rights.

They were first married four years ago when Newsom threw open the doors at City Hall to same-sex couples in defiance of a California state law.

Eventually, more than 4,000 same-sex couples were married in 2004 in San Francisco, but those unions were later nullified by the court.

“There could not be a more extraordinary example of love made visible,” said Newsom, who declared the couple “spouses for life” and described them as the “perfect human face to put on such an incredible moment in history.”

Same-sex couples were also tying the knot in the California counties of Sonoma, Los Angeles, Yolo and Alameda, where registries stayed open late to allow the ceremonies.

Thousands of gay and lesbian couples are expected to show up when county registry offices open as usual Tuesday morning throughout the state.

The weddings come just over a month after the California state Supreme Court ruled that a law approved by referendum in 2000, limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional.

The ceremonies made California the second state after Massachusetts to sanction gay marriage, and the first to permit ceremonies for out-of-state couples.

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