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LAX courthouse: 'Would you prefer spouse, partner or husband?'

June 17, 2008 |  4:44 pm

James Miles, 47, a production manager from South Los Angeles, came to the courthouse with partner Oscar Smith, 41, a physician assistant, for a marriage license, but stayed for a wedding.

Miles was dressed in a Barack Obama T-shirt that read, "In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it." At age 18, he had married a woman, so he knew firsthand the added "rights and privileges" of that status.

About a dozen same-sex couples had already been married by the time the pair entered the chapel and stood under an arbor of fake purple flowers before Derek Livingston, 40, a gay black man, like Miles and Smith, who was certified last week to perform marriages.

Livingston is single.

"This is the closest I could get to it," he said.

Wearing a black judge's robe, Livingston reviewed the couple's history -- seven years together -- and their vows as they scanned the black-and-white photos on the walls, all of straight couples kissing.

"Would you prefer me to use spouse, partner or husband?" Livingston said.

Partner, the men said.

They repeated their vows, kissed twice and accepted a thank-you card and hug from Livingston.

"I regard our win for marriage equality to be a dream fulfilled," it read. "Officiating your day today is an honor that I perform with pride and humility."

The men left beaming. Their big plans: Go home, play with the cat and garden.

"People say it's just a piece of paper and a ceremony," Miles said, "but it does feel different."

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske