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Villaraigosa seeks power to perform weddings

January 21, 2010 |  7:11 am

As mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa can approve budgets and fire the heads of city agencies, but there is one power he wishes he had more of: the power to perform marriages.

Showing that he is still enjoying a political honeymoon with lawmakers in Sacramento, Villaraigosa asked for a bill that would include mayors in the list of public officials authorized to solemnize nuptials in California. The measure passed off the Assembly floor Tuesday on a 71-0 vote.

Currently, Villaraigosa and other mayors may officiate at nuptials only when they have been deputized by the county clerk, but those assignments come with time limits. Villaraigosa performed 11 marriages between gay couples last summer, but the clerk’s permission ended. Now he wants the power extended to the full time he is in office.

"Mayor Villaraigosa strongly believes that the pursuit of happiness should be extended to all those who seek it, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation," said spokeswoman Janelle Erickson. "He asked for this legislation, which makes it legal for mayors to preside over marriages, as part of his commitment to ensure that two people in a loving relationship get the dignity, support and legal rights they deserve from their government."

If approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, Assembly Bill 967 would add mayors to a list of officials who can perform marriages that already includes judges, members of the state Legislature and Congress, and statewide elected officials including the governor.

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

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