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San Francisco: 'This is the happiest day of my life -- for the third time'

June 17, 2008 |  1:07 pm

Hank Their suits were pressed, their smiles broad, their boutonnieres a matching burgundy. But their place in line on this historic day was the best part of the day, the couple said.

Hank Donat, a 41-year-old writer, and Jeffrey Halpern, a 43-year-old business executive, were couple No. 1 to get a marriage license and be officially wed on the first full day of legal gay marriage in the city where it all began four years ago.

“This is the happiest day of my life –- for the third time,” Donat said. "We’re here to correct the egregious error made in 2004 when our marriage was overturned."

That was during the brief window when Mayor Gavin Newsom began allowing the weddings of gay men and lesbians. The couple's wedding was reversed, along with some 4,000 others, when the courts decided that Newsom had overstepped his bounds.

Last Halloween, the men decided to register as domestic partners. And then, when the California Supreme Court decided in May that same-sex couples could wed, they raced to sign up for one of an estimated 200 appointments available Wednesday.

Which is how they ended up in the ornate chambers of the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors at 8:30 a.m. exchanging vows before Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

“I don’t have words to say how deeply delighted I am,” Peskin said before leading the men through their vows. “The third time’s a charm. This one is going to stick.”

-- Maria L. La Ganga

Photo: Hank Donat, left, and Jeff Halpern after they were married by San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

Photo credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times