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Sacramento: 'Didn't your mother tell you to marry a doctor?'

June 17, 2008 |  4:53 pm

Berg_2 Birds sang and redwood trees swayed for the first gay marriage at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

On a white-columned balcony of the ornate Assembly chamber, Assemblywoman Patty Berg (D-Eureka), pictured at right, joined William Nilva, 57, and Richard Saxton, 53, in matrimony.

"I pronounce you married for as long as you both shall live," Berg said before a small gathering of family and friends wearing white rosebud and orchid corsages.  "William, you may now kiss Richard."

It was one of two same-sex weddings conducted Tuesday by legislators, whose legal privileges include the power to marry people.  State Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), performed a ceremony for former Orange County Assemblyman Dennis Mangers and his partner of 17 years, Michael Sestak, at the secretary of state's office.  Family, friends and legislators packed the auditorium, Kuehl said.

"It was very emotional," she said. "Men were crying; women were crying. It was a very joyful, historic and yet personal ceremony."

Berg called weddings one of her favorite duties and let out a happy "Whoo!" when Nilva -- her scheduler's brother -- said, "I do."

The Sacramento couple has been together 20 years, and there was "no question" that they would get married when the California Supreme Court cleared the way, said Saxton, a psychiatrist.

"We thought it was important for new generations who need the protection," he said.

Nilva, looking happily at his partner minutes before the ceremony, was less philosophical.
"He's a doctor," Nilva said.  "Didn't your mother tell you to marry a doctor?"

--Nancy Vogel