African American groups meet over Proposition 8

African American clergy, elected officials and community activists will lead a three-hour town hall meeting this morning on the black community and Proposition 8, the measure that restored a ban on same-sex marriage.

The session, from 8 to 11 a.m., will take place at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, 400 W. Washington Blvd.

The event will include a series of panels moderated by the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper and local writer and political activist Jasmyne Cannick. Among other topics, panelists will discuss gay rights and the public's reaction to the high percentage of black voters who supported the measure. 

"We don't typically discuss these types of issues, not in a public setting," said Cannick, who is black and gay. "But there's a lot of chitchat out there, at the mall, the nail shop, the barbershop. It's a topic of conversation."

For information, call (323) 299-3800.

Prop. 8 wars rage on Facebook

Proposition8_3In the wake of the apparent passage of California Proposition 8, a second generation of rancorous debate has already sprung up online, with Facebook becoming a prominent virtual battleground.  Before the election, Facebook users created dozens of groups on both sides of the measure, some with tens of thousands of followers, others with just a handful. (This anti-Prop. 8 group was even started by Facebook employees.)

Just as the memberships of those older groups continue to swell (see image at left), the new crop of groups is growing fast. 

Opponents are using Facebook to organize protests, boycotts and more creative kinds of political statements.

One group encourages readers to Protest Proposition 8 by paying with $2 bills. If enough people pay with "The Queer Dollar," the group's description predicts, "$2 bills will flood the economy, and everyone will see how much LGBT and Allies's money contributes." 

Read the rest of the post at the Web Scout blog.

-- David Sarno

Prop. 8: Backers on Southside and Eastside overcame foes on Westside

Anti-Prop. 8 protests spring up in CaliforniaProposition 8: The battle over gay marriage.

The battle over Proposition 8 in some ways came down to a battle between west and north versus south and east.

A Times database analysis of Proposition 8 voting in Los Angeles County shows some clear geographic divides over the issue of banning gay marriage. The database team produced a variety of interactive maps designed to help understand Proposition 8 balloting in L.A. and across California. Here are some highlights:

WESTSIDE: Voters rejected Proposition 8 on the Westside by a large margin. About 66% of voters in Beverly Hills voted "no," as did 78% of Santa Monica voters. In Malibu, 69% voted no. Opposition was also heavy in the hillside corridor west of downtown from Echo Park and Silver Lake to Hollywood and West Hollywood, and also in the Mid-Wilshire, Fairfax and Beverly Center areas. That strong opposition to the measure jumped over the Hollywood Hills to the affluent "south of Ventura Boulevard" crowd and even farther north.

SOLID SOUTH and EAST: Some of the strongest support for Proposition 8 was south of downtown L.A., among black and Latino voters. In Compton, 65% of voters said "yes," as did 60% in Huntington Park, 61% in Inglewood and 63% in Lynwood. Similar levels of support were evident in predominantly Latino cities to the east, including Whittier, El Monte, Baldwin Park and Pomona.

ASIAN VOTE: Several cities with large Asian American populations -- Monterey Park, Alhambra, Temple City, San Gabriel, San Marino and Cerritos -- backed the measure. (Some of these cities also have sizable Latino populations.)

ALONG THE COAST: In the South Bay, the biggest opposition was along the coast. The beach cities -- Redondo, Manhattan and Hermosa -- all voted "no" by healthy margins. But on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, all four communities approved Proposition 8 (Palos Verdes Estates, however, did so by a thin margin).

FAR WEST VALLEY: The 101 Freeway corridor generally voted no: Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills and Westlake Village.

City with the largest "yes" percentage: INDUSTRY, 82% (but only 18 voters)

City with the largest "no" percentage: WEST HOLLYWOOD, 86%

-- Shelby Grad

LAPD braces for Prop. 8 protest in West L.A., vows to be prepared*

Prop. 8 protest

More than 3,000 protesters marched near the landmark Los Angeles California Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westwood today to protest the church's strong support for Proposition 8. Santa Monica Boulevard is closed and nearby traffic is gridlocked.

Opponents of Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage in California, were waving banners and chanting. A similar protests occurred on Wednesday night in Hollywood and West Hollywood.

Los Angeles Police Department officials say they won't be caught off-guard as they were last night, when they were required to call a tactical alert after a few members of the mostly peaceful crowd got out of hand. The protest is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. off Santa Monica Boulevard.

In the wake of the passage of the state proposition banning gay marriage, Wednesday night saw thousands protest in West Hollywood and Hollywood, forcing police to shut down some streets and the LAPD to call a citywide tactical alert that required officers from one watch to stay on duty during the next watch.

At least seven people were arrested, four at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, where one man jumped on top of a police car. Television cameras captured one protester struggling with officers and being struck on the legs by batons.

The Mormon temple is apparently being targeted because of church members' funding and support of the proposition.

* Update: Another protest is planned for later this afternoon in West Hollywood near the Pacific Design Center. The MTA says streets will be closed and buses rerouted. Details from the MTA statement:

Metro has received word that there will be additional Prop. 8 demonstrations this afternoon and evening and [L.A. County Sheriff's Department]  will be closing San Vicente from Melrose to Santa Monica Boulevard starting at 4 p.m. until the streets are cleared, which could go into the late evening. There will be no traffic including buses allowed to go north on San Vicente.  During this time, Metro will need to reroute buses to Robertson to go north and then east on Santa Monica Blvd.

**Update 2: Metro corrected their earlier statement, saying the Sheriff's Department currently has "no formal plan to close San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue this evening."

-- Richard Winton and Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

San Francisco: 'I’m just a gay person in the world'

Here in the capital of gay California, where Mayor Gavin Newsom launched it all four years ago, City Hall on Tuesday was crawling with hyphenated children -- if only figuratively.

An oblivious Benjamin Whiting-Eismann slept calmly in a Snugli, while his mothers braved the crowds to pick up a wedding license.

"We thought today was the second day and would be safe," said Catherine Whiting, as Vanessa Eisemann dug around in Benjamin's diaper bag lfor their paperwork.

Mary Sophia Allen-Walmisley, who turns 9 today, and her brother, Luke, 5, waited patiently while their fathers queued up for license and marriage both.

The family lives on Maui in Hawaii, explaining the coordinated blue aloha shirts of Andrew Walmisley and Jonathan Allen. Once the nuptials ended, they headed off to Berkeley for the big event of the day -- picking up Mary Sophia's birthday cake.

And then there was Sidney Goldfader-Dufty, who rolled to City Hall with her jogging parents before the doors opened on the big day.

Her father is Supervisor Bevan Dufty, a gay man. Her mother is Rebecca Goldfader, a lesbian. The family lives close by and wanted to check out the City Hall scene.

As Dufty gave interviews on the steps, Goldfader eyed the crowds and worried about what the hubbub would do to children like Sidney, who attends preschool inside.

"I have a normal life," Goldfader said. "I'm just a gay person in the world."

-- Maria L. La Ganga

West Hollywood: 'We're everywhere'

James Adrian Genesi, 49, and James Davis, 43, drove all night from Mesa, Ariz. arriving at 3 a.m. in black suits and ties to join the line for marriage licenses. After the wedding, they planned to hop back into their car, because Genesi had to be back at work at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday at a casino outside Scottsdale.

Together for seven years, they were both excited because their moment was at hand.

"It's fabulous," Genesi said. "We've been waiting so long, we had to experience this with the rest of our extended family," referring to the other same-sex couples waiting in line to be married.

Genesi said the festivities would send a message to California voters, not only that same-sex marriage is acceptable, but also that same-sex couples are "everywhere."

"It's becoming more and more acceptable.  That's what makes America wonderful," he said.

Two women from Studio City were there with their 1-year-old daughter, Sonia, to be wed by the same rabbi who officiated at their Jewish marriage ceremony six years ago.

 
Leah Sussman is a homemaker and college student, and Tanya Sussman is an administrator in information technology at UCLA. Their rabbi, Lisa Edwards, had brought a chuppah, the white marriage canopy used in Jewish ceremonies.

Tanya Sussman described their first wedding as spiritual bonding. Today's event would legalize that, at least in the eyes of California. "This is just filing the paperwork," Tanya said.

Leah said: "It's a way not to have to put an asterisk next to our relationship anymore. Our daughter won't have to explain it."

Edwards was also getting a marriage license, but will marry her partner, Tracy Moore, 56, later this summer because she's too busy now. Before the state Supreme Court decision, Edwards had only one same-sex marriage scheduled. Now she has 26.

Next to Edwards stood a man with a sign reading, "Jesus is our best man." There was a celebratory tone in the air, with couples holding hands and friends hugging each other.

Edwards emphasized the importance of the high court ruling that ushered in the same-sex unions: "The ruling changes everything," she said. "It goes to the heart of why marriage is in the legal system in the first place. When we weren't acknowledged as families, that was a painful state of existence."

She said it would give her and others in her community a sense of confidence and newfound stability in their families.

-- Duke Helfand

Photo: Getty Images

James Davis, left, and Adrian Genesi joined in wedlock after driving through the night from their home in Mesa, Ariz.

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

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

Manual Arts High: 'That’s so gay will slip out but then they apologize'

As the first full day of legal same-sex marriage dawned in California, a class of ninth-graders at Manual Arts High School in South Los Angeles considered the issue with surprisingly sophisticated and opinionated views.

“Gay people have rights just like everyone else and can do what they want,” said one student.

“They’re not going to hurt anyone else since it’s only between two people,” said another.

But, “How will it impact society if they won’t be able to reproduce?” was a common argument against voiced by one boy.

“Anger against same-sex marriage might promote violence against gays,” said another boy.

The discussion was part of Travis Miller’s effort to promote better writing and communicating by having his second-period English students organize thinking about a subject and defend their reasoning.

Questions generated by the group will be put to a married gay couple and an opponent of same-sex marriage who is supporting the November ballot measure to ban the practice, whom Miller has invited to be interviewed by the students.

The students, said Miller, 34, seem to be far more open-minded about gays and same-sex marriage than he remembers teenagers being during his own high school years.

The prevailing sentiment expressed in the class was “it’s cool but weird.” A few students expressed strongly held religious beliefs, reinforced, they said, by family and church.

“It’s a sin in the Bible,” said one girl, but her male classmate responded, “Jesus said we can forgive anyone.”

One young man argued for same-sex marriage, reasoning that “gays make the community look better,” reflecting changing  — if stereotypical —  societal and cultural influences, as Miller pointed out.

“The whole metrosexual thing has exploded and really had an influence,” he said.

But despite such sentiments, said Miller, the derogatory comment of choice on campus remains, “That’s gay.”

A discussion of Shakepeare’s "Romeo and Juliet" elicited comments that all the men must be gay because they were wearing tights. When Miller taught the students Greek mythology, some commented that because Achilles cried, he must be gay.

Gay, lesbian and bissexual students said they have heard such jokes and slurs but that the climate for them on campus is improving. Health teacher Vanya Hollis started a Gay-Straight Alliance club a year ago and during the first week of June, the school held its first Annual Gay Pride Week.

More than 800 students and teachers heard guest speakers, and during the festival the students set up a marriage booth where they could exchange vows, receive a certificate and exchange rings.

Monica, 15, who said she recently came out as bisexual, met resistance from some people she asked to help put up posters. “They said, 'I don’t want to cause it’s gay.' ”

Ramsey Santos, 16, president of the alliance, said the debate surrounding same-sex marriage has made it easier for students like himself. He used to hear classmates snicker about gays, but when he came out this year, it was “no big deal,” he said.

“I came out to my parents, and they were OK,” he said. “Nobody stopped being my friend. Sometimes, when I’m around something, like ‘That’s so gay,’ will slip out, but then they apologize. They try not to use that stuff because they know they’ll offend me.”

-- Carla Rivera

LAX courthouse: Rainbow sprinkled cupcakes

Nine members of the Pacific Unitarian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes stood on the front steps of the Airport Courthouse on Tuesday, wearing rainbow-colored shirts, holding rainbow-colored signs that said, “Standing on the Side of Love”  and handing out rainbow-sprinkled cupcakes.

“Hey, how do you feel?” one church member asked Ron Stevenson, 48, and Alan Boeke, 56, of Manhattan Beach.

“Fabulous. Married,” said Stevenson, a casting agent. The couple came in shorts and flip-flops to get a license and on a whim decided to get married then and there.

They stopped to chat awhile with members of the church about where they got their matching diamond rings and their plans for a celebratory cruise to Tahiti in October.

“It’s nice to finalize it and feel part of the general population,” Stevenson said of his marriage to Boeke, a flight attendant.

The Rev. John Morehouse, the church’s minister wore a rainbow scapular.

“I hope what people will recognize today is it’s all about love. It’s not about the right and wrong of it. People have rights,” he said.

Morehouse said he thought some straight people would change their minds about gay marriage before November.

“When they see all the people walk out the door happy over all these months, they will see that it’s not any different than it is for them,” he said.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

San Diego clerk: 'I just love weddings'

The second-happiest group here as same-sex marriage licenses were issued may have been the county employees who volunteered to assist. Some took the applications, others acted as witnesses and guides as couples went outside to be wed on the lawn in front of the waterfront County Administration Building on Pacific Highway.

Some employees had been deputized to perform the civil ceremony from the newly rewritten script that refers to partners A and B.  One of those deputies, Michelle Smith, who is married with two children, said she could not resist the chance to be part of history.

“I just love weddings,” said Smith, a document technician in the assessor’s office. “I just hope I won’t cry.”

By midday, Smith had yet to tear up –- though she posed for pictures with a couple that she had just married: Patricia Stennett, 47, a general contractor, and Megan Sheffield, also 47, a program manager.

“I think I’m going to make it,” Smith said.

-- Tony Perry

Santa Ana: 'I'm not judging them, but my religion is against it'

Anthony Delos Santos, 26, and Jennifer Taylor, 24, of Garden Grove didn't realize when they joined a  reception after their wedding that it was to celebrate gay couples. The young newlyweds -- she in a white sun dress, he in a black suit -- said their religion bars them from accepting same-sex unions. “I’m not judging them, but my religion is against it,” said Delos Santos, who is a Jehovah's Witness.

The couple was married in the tiny chapel in the old county courthouse in Santa Ana, then went upstairs and posed for pictures while cutting into a cake that read, “Congratulations on your historic wedding day.” Whatever the reason for the reception, Taylor said, “It was nice; it makes it feel like the real thing.”

-- Paloma Esquivel

Bakersfield: 'We are silent today, but we're just biding our time,' one foe says.

Rosalyn Strode didn't bother going to Bakersfield's county offices to protest the same-sex weddings underway there this morning. She did that work right from home, on her computer.

Strode spent the morning sending an e-mail alert to more than 300 pastors in the Bakersfield area, asking them to support a proposed ordinance banning gay marriage in Kern County. She and her husband, Ben Strode, have already put in long hours in the last month gathering signatures for a November ballot measure that would amend the state Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage statewide.

"We are silent today, but we're just biding our time,'' Strode said of the absence of protests in Kern County. "We'll have our say in November.''

Strode, 71, heads a group called Bakersfield Citizens Opposed to Obscenity and Lewdness. The group strongly opposes gay marriage, calling it an aberration and a sin.

The decision to withhold protests today was deliberate, she said. After consulting with several activists who opposed gay marriage, they decided to sit out and wait for the headlines to hit home, Strode said.

"Let the people of Bakersfield see the disgusting results of them getting married. Men kissing men. Ewww,'' she said. "Then everyone will make up their minds on what they want to do about it.''

About 20 same-sex couples had exchanged vows by noon in an outdoor courtyard near the county clerk's office. Volunteer officiants, newly married spouses and giddy relatives and friends chatted happily in knots, cheers erupting whenever the next couple was proclaimed legally married.

Just one protester held a sign that said in Spanish that marriage equals a man and a woman. The woman stood on the sidewalk for about half an hour and was mostly ignored by the crowd. But five county employees sitting nearby said they silently supported the protester's position.

"I can't give you my name because I work here and they will hound me,'' said one woman at the table, gesturing to the marriage crowd. "But this is just wrong!  They should not impose their lifestyle on the majority, and we are the majority. We don't want to see them on display like this.''

The others at the table nodded in agreement, with one man adding: "Our enemies will see us on our knees today and think we are weak.''

Catherine Saillant

El Centro: 'We're underway'

Here in lightly populated Imperial County, things went smoothly, if a bit sluggishly, with gay marriage.

By midafternoon, only three same-sex couples had requested marriage licenses, and none wanted an immediate ceremony.

By county ordinance, the county clerk issues licenses five days a week but performs ceremonies on only two days. Dolores Provencio, county clerk/recorder and commissioner of civil marriages and registrar of voters, said she was pleased with how her staff has handled the new situation. “We’re underway,” she said.

-- Tony Perry

San Francisco mayor: 'I'm about more than just gay marriage'

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was lying semi-low this morning.

He strolled toward City Hall about 40 minutes after the nuptials began –- tieless, jacketless, crisp white shirt unbuttoned at the neck. First one reporter accosted him, then a second, a third and finally there was a gaggle surrounding the man who unleashed California's gay marriage in San Francisco four years ago.

Since that heady time of 4,000-plus same-sex weddings, Newsom’s been blamed for hurting John Kerry’s White House chances. He’s positioning himself for a possible run for governor.

He was asked about the historic day: “One thing you can’t control is love, and when you find it, it’s a glorious gift. That’s what we’re celebrating today.”

Asked about a possible move for the 49ers football team, Newsom appeared relieved to talk about something other than the weddings -– even though he was scheduled to preside over one himself.

When a television reporter tried to get him back to the subject at hand -– the happy couples streaming in behind him, the rainbow signs and media crush -– he bristled.

“I’m about more than just gay marriage,” Newsom said. “I’m about healthcare and education. These are important things.”

-- Maria L. La Ganga

Norwalk and Lancaster protests: 'Repent'

A handful of gay-marriage opponents stood outside the clerk's offices in Lancaster and Norwalk today in protests that were peaceful and largely ignored.

a few people stood outside the massive Norwalk complex with signs and red T-shirts that entreated passersby to "Repent."

"They're saying: 'I'm for Jesus.' But nobody's really responding," said Eileen Shea, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder in Norwalk. "It was a very happy day for lots of folks. I think it's going to take a lot to take the cheer out of the atmosphere for these folks."

In Lancaster, officials said as many as 10 people gathered to protest gay marriage, but were gone by lunchtime.

"We were notified of it. We went over there," said Los Angeles Sheriff's Sgt. David Chambers in Lancaster. "They didn't cause any problems. We didn't have to kick anybody out."

Chambers said he thought their choice of locale was odd.

"We don't have marriages" there, he said. "But that's OK, they can protest."

-- Evelyn Larrubia

San Diego: 'Marines aren't afraid of a fight'

Even as 200-plus same-sex couples here were receiving marriage licenses, there was talk of an upcoming legal and political battle to defeat a ballot measure that would ban gay unions.

Some couples, including Bob Lehman and Tom Felkner, the first to be married, plan fundraisers to battle the measure on the November ballot.

''Marines aren't afraid of a fight," said Lehman, a former Marine sergeant with combat experience during the Persian Gulf War.

A major fundraising party was set for Tuesday night in the Hillcrest neighborhood. Petitions were being passed gathering signatures to defeat the measure.

"'I just hope people don't want to move backwards and undo all this progress," said Tracy Gulzow, a private investigator, as she and her partner, Sarah Dana, a marketing executive, waited for their license.

-- Tony Perry

West Hollywood: White dresses and sneakers

Dress_5 Kate and Tori Kuykendall, both 31, considered themselves already married, after a commitment ceremony three years ago in San Diego, but Kuykendall showed up at 6 p.m. Monday to claim the first spot on the wedding line in West Hollywood.

“We just thought it might be kind of lonely to be at the LAX courthouse,” said Kate, explaining why they bypassed the airport courthouse closer to their El Segundo home.

The couple was euphoric, but more for the historical significance of the day and the increasing acceptance of gay people than for themselves.

Tori Kuykendall wore the same white dress she wore at the earlier ceremony. Kate had to buy a new dress at BCBG since she had a baby five months ago and no longer fits into her 2005 dress. Both wore white canvas Converse low-top sneakers.

They were accompanied by Kate Kuykendall’s mother, who served as their witness. Kate's family is deeply religious, and struggled with her sexual orientation.

“I grew up in household where being gay was a sin,” Kate said.

Still, the family grew more accepting. Kate Kuykendall grew teary as she described how her father choked up while giving a speech at the 2005 commitment ceremony.

“It’s a good lesson for families,” she said. “We don’t have to agree, but we have a loving, supportive family.”

The women have a 5-month-old daughter and hope to have more children. They also hope that the legal recognition of their marriage will help their daughter and their future children feel comfortable having two moms.

But obstacles remain. The women both work for the Peace Corps, a federally funded program. Tori Kuykendall would like to be a stay-at-home mother, but she wouldn’t qualify for Kate’s health insurance because the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Clinton in 1996, forbids it. Buying private insurance would be costly.

“We always say we want the best and the brightest going into public service,” Kate said. “But from a long-term perspective for me, that means I have to pay out-of-pocket for her healthcare.”

-- Joe Mozingo

Photo: Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times

Tori, left, and Kate Kuykendall make their way to get a marriage license.

West Hollywood: 'We don't need any more Britney Spears weddings'

Doria Biddle, 38, walked Collin, her long-haired dachshund, two blocks from her home to the West Hollywood park where couples were being married Tuesday.

"He already tried to eat somebody's wedding cake," she said.

Noting that she is a single lesbian, Biddle said, "I thought it would be fun to stand here looking jilted and heartbroken."

"I'm single, so it's not even a pipe dream at this point," she said. "I hope people don't rush into it because of this. We don't need any more Britney Spears weddings."

Joking aside, Biddle said watching the ceremonies warmed her heart. She hoped the marriages would increase mainstream acceptance of gays and lesbians, a wish repeated by many people on Tuesday.

"It will be less threatening to Middle America, when they see they are not radicals but people who have nothing but their own love for each other and commitment in mind," Biddle said.

She was perplexed by the lack of protesters. The handful that had gathered in the morning had all left by 1 p.m.

"They're here for gay pride every year," she said.

-- Joe Mozingo

Glendale: Talk radio host says gay unions will 'haunt us'

Prager_2 At KRLA studios here, conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager fielded questions on gay marriage throughout the morning, arguing that legalizing same-sex unions had undermined the will of California voters and the tenets of Western civilization.

He described marriage as "the central institution of Western civilization" and said he believed "the cavalier treatment of it will come to haunt us."

"If love is your criterion, why do you have the chutzpah to ban polygamy?" he asked a caller.

The call board lit up with listeners eager to discuss the issue. Prager particularly wanted to take line four, on which "Jack from Los Angeles" said he belonged to a Jewish temple at which a lesbian rabbi was performing same-sex union ceremonies.

Prager, himself an observant Jew, replied that the Bible contained no support for the practice, and to behave otherwise is to say "I am better than the Torah."

"That's an interesting new religion," he said.

What if the rabbi were seen kissing another woman in view of the congregation? he asked.

"Is that the model you want the rabbi to be for your child?" he asked.

-- Christopher Goffard

Santa Ana: 'We just wanted to be part of this beautiful day'

Just outside the clerk’s office at the old county courthouse in Santa Ana, Karen S. Stoyanoff, Lee Marie Sanchez and Rayna Hamre offered to officiate the wedding of any couple who asked.

Stoyanoff, a minister at Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church, wore a black robe and stole emblazoned with the symbols of different faiths.

For the last 15 years, she has performed nearly a dozen commitment ceremonies in Illinois and California. She remembers details from each one. The first was a backyard ceremony in suburban Chicago; one bride wore a tailored pantsuit, the other wore a breezy summer dress.

Today, most couples who wanted a ceremony brought their own officiants. Others said their vows sitting at a desk across from a county employee. Stoyanoff and her friend said they’d wait around a few hours just in case someone needed them.

“We just wanted to be part of this beautiful day,” Stoyanoff said. “Today means we’ve moved forward to justice.”

-- Paloma Esquivel

South L.A.: Wedding business slow

South L.A. is not an area where a lot of gay people feel welcome, observers said, so by noon, the Florence Firestone county clerk's office had issued only three same-sex marriage licenses.

"We were expecting throngs of people," said Alfredo Vasquez, building administrator for the Florence Firestone Community Service Center, where the office is located.

Most people at the office were there for birth certificates. Two extra security guards had been hired in case of any problems with protesters.

Vasquez said he thought people didn't know the clerk's office was there and that the neighborhood isn't known for gay activity.

-- Sam Quinones

San Francisco: Not the company line*

For the longest time Tuesday morning, Brother Richard Jonathan, a member of the Society of Saint Francis, was the only one carrying a sign outside San Francisco City Hall as cameras whirred and gay men and lesbians filed in to be legally hitched.

Anyone who has paid attention to the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s official disappointment over the state Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling a month ago could be forgiven for looking twice at Jonathan’s placard. “Franciscans for Same-Sex Marriage,” it read.

Standing with his big bright sign and his long brown robe, all alone in his demonstration, Jonathan acknowledged that the slogan wasn’t  quite the company line voiced by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and six Southern California Roman Catholic bishops. In a statement Tuesday, these clerics said that marriage “has a unique place in God’s creation, joining a man and a woman in a committed relationship."

* [This post should have noted that Jonathan belongs to an Episcopal, not Roman Catholic, order. Also, an earlier version of the post said seven bishops joined Mahony in issuing the statement on marriage. Actually, along with Mahony, six other bishops serve the L.A. diocese.]

But so what? Jonathan suggested.

St. Francis, the patron saint of this wide-open city, “starts with the belief that God is love,” Jonathan said. He “embraced the leper. He embraced the poor. He embraced the marginalized.”

As a result, he continued, Franciscans “see God’s presence in all persons. That’s where I start. Where there is God, there is love. I do this as a Franciscan with a long tradition of embracing all persons.”

-- Maria L. La Ganga   

San Francisco: 'My six children are all married'

It was hard to figure out just who was the happiest person in San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera’s office Wednesday morning.

The man himself, who filed suit on the city’s behalf four years ago to challenge state marriage laws as unconstitutional and discriminatory against gays and lesbians? Helen Zia, 55, who was part of the suit and whom Herrera joined in marriage that morning with her partner Lia Shigemura, 50, in a book-lined room choked with cameras?

Or maybe it was Beilin Zia, 79, Helen’s diminutive mother, who signed the wedding license for her daughter and beamed and beamed as Herrera pronounced them “spouses for life” and the women slipped wedding bands on one another's fingers.

Beilin lives in Walnut Creek and has six children. Helen, she said, “is No. 2, but the last one to get married. I’m very happy now. My six children are all married. I’m very happy.”

-- Maria L. La Ganga

LAX courthouse: Disneyland, Universal, gay marriage

Adriana Hinojosa, 34, and Benigna Huerta, 40, did the kind of things that any tourists from Omaha would do when they visit L.A. They hit Disneyland and Universal Studios, strolled around Santa Monica -- and, this morning, they got married.

Of course, that was the main reason for their trip -- even if their home state does not acknowledge their union as legal. "It's just a way to make it official," said Hinojosa, a Spanish interpreter at the county courthouse in Omaha.

The women have been together five years and had a religious ceremony to mark their commitment in 2003 at the Metropolitan Community Church in Omaha. Both their families came, from Kansas and Puebla, Mexico.

This morning, they stood in line, wearing matching blue dress shirts and black pants, readying themselves to get their license and then get married in the chapel at the clerk's office.

Celia Rodriguez, 30, a medical receptionist form Inglewood, was in front of them in line, getting a birth certificate for her daughter. She congratulated the couple, saying "Felicidades." "I say, why not?" Rodriguez said, adding that she would support gay marriage at the polls in November.

Hinojosa and Huerta, who was trained as a doctor in Mexico, say they consider themselves activists and plan to tell people about their marriage at a gay pride parade in Omaha next weekend. But they're not sure if they want to go further by, for example, suing their state to force recognition of their marriage. "Well, Nebraska is a very conservative state," Hinojosa said.

--Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Laguna Hills: 'It's a justice issue'

The Rev. John Millspaugh, minister of Tapestry, a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Mission Viejo, felt so strongly that gay marriage should be legal that he and his wife two years ago traveled to have their wedding in a state where it was allowed--Massachusetts--because "we didn't feel like we could get married in California with a clear conscience."

"Even though my wife and I are straight, we felt that only there could we get married in keeping with our values," he said. "Today, that changed."

Tuesday morning he and several congregants passed out congratulatory roses to couples, gay and straight, who emerged from the Laguna Hills Civic Center, one of two places in Orange County issuing marriage licenses and conducting ceremonies.

"Nothing could be more appropriate than a religious voice supporting equality," he said. He said he was there because he wanted to show a positive religious presence to counter the backlash anticipated from more conservative faiths.

Millspaugh said that was especially important being in right-leaning southern Orange County, where his congregation occasionally gets harassing phone messages from neighbors and critics upset with the church's acceptance of same-sex marriage.

He also accompanied one longtime gay couple from his church to get their marriage license Tuesday. He will marry them Wednesday, waiving his usual requirement that they go through pre-marital counseling and pay a fee beforehand.

"It's a justice issue," he said. "If they say they're ready to marry, I'll believe them."

--Tony Barboza

West Hollywood: The divorce attorney's view

Beverly Hills divorce attorney Jacalyn Davis, who works a few blocks away from West Hollywood Park, walked over to the park during her lunch break, carrying a Starbucks coffee cup.

She and some of her staff members were delighted to find all the weddings going on and a violinist serenading the happy couples with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Davis says there's been a buzz in family law circles about whether gay marriage is constitutional. As far as she's concerned, it is. "It's about time the Constitution provides for what's happy, and I hope it sticks."

She says she thought gay marriages might be more likely to last. "I'm dismantling screwed-up relationships for a living," she said. "I don't think straight people have cornered the healthy-relationship market.

"Because the gay community has fought so hard for this, perhaps they'll value this more," Davis said.

She was in her office when her legal assistant heard that gay couples were getting married. They dropped what they were doing and walked over to the park. "Miserable straight people can wait for our happy gay people," Davis said.

Asked if she was trolling for business, Davis said absolutely not.

"Unless of course she gets some prenuptial agreements," said her legal assistant, Natasha Archer.

-- Duke Helfand

Photo: Tori, left, and Kate Kuykendall, who have been together five years, make their way to get a marriage license at West Hollywood Park.

Photo credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Oakland: 'This is all kind of surreal'

Louis Timphony, 59, and James Gormley, 63, had waited 35 years for the chance to get married. Today, they arrived at the Alameda County Clerk’s Office before the doors opened, eager to be among the first gay couples to be wed in a civil ceremony.

Timphony, a field worker for the state Department of Social Services, and Gormley, a commercial real estate broker, said they didn’t want to wait any longer, just in case the law changes again.

"This is all kind of surreal," Gormley said. "We expected right up until this morning someone to come running in and say, ‘We’ve changed our minds.’ ” After the two men went inside, they waited in line to fill out an application for a wedding license.

It was an outdated form that listed one as the groom and the other as the bride, but they didn’t notice. Then, as they waited to pay $134 for the license and ceremony, Timphony realized they didn’t have rings. "I’ll just switch this one over and then you can buy me a new one," he told Gormley.

As they waited again for the ceremony, Timphony leafed through the booklet titled "Your Future Together," which all couples are given. There was a section on family planning and another on genetic diseases. "I hope they get this updated," he said.

Timphony said they first met in San Francisco’s Castro District on Jan. 21, 1973, at 2 a.m., just after the bars had closed. "His line was, ‘Have you seen the moon tonight?' " Timphony said.

They have been together ever since. When the California Supreme Court ruled last month that same-sex marriages were legal, Timphony said he began to cry and asked Gormley to marry him. "Some people scream and yell that this is going to destroy the sanctity of marriage," he said, "but our relationship has lasted longer than those of the religious fanatics, who change their women like underwear."

It was time for the ceremony. Timphony wearing a dark gray suit and red tie, and Gormley, wearing a light gray suit and yellow tie, vowed to forsake all others, to love and comfort each other and to take each other as their "lawfully wedded spouse." Gormley placed the ring on Timphony’s finger and pronounced, "With this ring, I thee wed." They gave each other a quick kiss and a hug. A few minutes later, a clerk handed them their marriage certificate.

Rather than identifying them as bride and groom, it listed them as Party A and Party B. "That’s it. We’re done," Timphony said, proudly holding the document. "If the fundamentalists get their way, at least I will always have this." As they were leaving, a local reporter asked them why they got married. "Because we could," they answered together.

--Richard C. Paddock

East L.A.: A quiet day

Around noon on Tuesday, the office of the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder in East Los Angeles was deserted.

Security guards said they were seeing fewer people than usual, and officials said they had not issued a single license to a same-sex couple.

-- Jennifer Oldham

Norwalk: Who's on first?

Tent Here's an unexpected complication of same-sex wedding ceremonies: keeping track of who's who.

Lionel Ignacio, 54, a massage therapist who became a volunteer wedding officiant in Norwalk for the day, stood solemnly before David Resendez, 45, a train operator from Rancho Dominguez, and Jaime Pineda, 42, who works for Macy's in Rancho Dominguez. 

Perhaps caught up in the excitement of the moment, and confused by his couple's identical black outfits and rainbow scarves, Ignacio started the vows by looking at Jaime and intoning, "David, repeat after me: Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity."

Jaime blinked, confused, but gamely said his vow.

Ignacio looked at David and intoned, "Jaime -- "

"I'm David," said David, interrupting the officiant.

Ignacio corrected himself, but moments later was off course again.

"David -- " said Ignacio.

"Jaime," said Jaime.

In the end, though, David and Jaime were finally legally married. They kissed. Beaming, Resendez grabbed Pineda in a bear hug and exhaled with relief.

The couple met 18 years ago in Santa Monica when Resendez was a bus driver. "He got on my bus and never got off," Resendez said of Pineda.
 
--Tami Abdollah

Photo: Jaime Pineda, left, receives a wedding ring from his partner David Resendez.

Photo credit: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times

 

Read on »

West Hollywood: 'What better place?'

Hundreds of casually dressed couples waited in Disneyland-style queues to be married at a recreation center here, but weddings were delayed because computers had printed out licenses that said “Bride” and “Groom.”

After an hour,  a technician fixed the glitch, so that the documents would read “Partner A” and “Partner B.” The couples passed near eight satellite trucks and ran a gantlet of photographers before entering the building.

A handful of protesters stood nearby, with a man in a devil mask holding a sign that read “Pervert weddings done here” and “Smile, Satan loves you.” Another man shouted, “This is an abomination, this is rebellion against God!”

The crowd, a mix of young and old and different races, largely ignored them.

“That’s OK. They have their rights. God loves them as much as God loves us,” said Edwin Goodman, 62. “I think they paid vagabonds to do this. It’s the same bunch that were in Beverly Hills last night.”

Goodman stood with his partner, JB Payne, 64. The west Valley couple woke up at 1 a.m. and arrived in West Hollywood at 3:30 a.m. to claim the seventh spot in line. They held eight red roses to symbolize the number of years they have been together, and wore orchid leis.

“We love each other,” Goodman said. “That’s all this is about.” They marveled at how far the gay-rights movement had come in their lifetimes. They said they chose to wed in West Hollywood because of the city’s iconic status.

“It’s like I know it’s happening. It’s just so hard to believe we’ve come to this point in this country’s history, where same-sex people can get married,” said Goodman, who grew up in a Southern Baptist family where people prayed if they learned someone was gay. “This is the day. For just the historical significance, what better place than West Hollywood?”

Nearby, Mayra Tinoco, 17, and Yuri Gomez, 19, stood in the shade of a magnolia tree with Tinoco’s father Jose, and Gomez’s three-year-old daughter. The couple has been together a year, and Gomez planned to take Tinoco’s name.

Jose Tinoco accompanied the couple to sign consent forms since Tinoco is underage. The family was not always so accepting.

“They took me to counseling, they took me to church,” she said. “They did all kinds of things. They tried baptizing me all over again.”

Her father is a devout Catholic from Guanajuato whose living-room nativity is a well-known local attraction. The 61-year-old said he struggled with his daughter’s sexual orientation.

“I didn’t accept it at first. It took me time to relax,” he said. “God made them so why discriminate. I accept Mayra and Yuri; it just took time to do so.”

-- Joe Mozingo

Colusa: Ready and willing, but no takers

In this farm town about 70 miles north of Sacramento, Colusa County Clerk Kathleen Moran carefully prepared herself and her staff for the arrival of same-sex marriage.

When the doors of her office swung open at 8:30 a.m., she waited.

And waited.

"We're ready for it," Moran said, expectant even as the morning ticked away uneventfully.

Not a protester was to be seen, nor a same-sex couple to be wed.

In the weeks leading up to Day 1, Moran and her staff rewrote the short but heartfelt script they read for marriage ceremonies, replacing gender-specific terms like "husband" and "bride" with the word "spouse."

She also had a 45-minute "heart-to-heart" last week with her clerks. Would anyone, she asked, be troubled carrying out the magisterial duties involved with a same-sex marriage?

They told her not to worry, Moran said: "They felt it was just part of the job."

Along with clerks in counties all over the state, Moran said she has received calls from same-sex marriage foes warning her against overseeing the ceremonies. Moran would tell the callers -- all, she said, from out of town -- that her role isn't to make the laws but to carry them out.

"I explained that we're really not the level for anyone to be protesting at,'' she said, sitting inside the county's Greek-revival courthouse before bound volumes of records dating from Colusa's establishment in 1850.

A gazebo on the courthouse lawn serves as the principal matrimonial site. Last year, Moran and her deputy clerks issued 111 marriage licenses and presided over 50 civil ceremonies.

Colusa County, like most in the state's agricultural heartland, is conservative, and voted against gay marriage in 2000. But it's also a live-and-let-live kind of place, said Moran, county clerk for the past two decades. Outwardly gay couples aren't a visible part of life in Colusa, Moran said, but she expects at least a few to appear at her front counter seeking a marriage certificate.

"This is a place where you better coexist," she said. "Eventually you're going to run into just about everyone at the grocery store."

---Eric Bailey

Newport Beach: Rolling out the welcome mat

Newport Beach is hoping to cash in on the wedded bliss of same-sex couple across the state, with the local conference and visitors' bureau advertising romantic seaside getaways for happy honeymooners, including stays for "starry-eyed newlyweds" at the Balboa Bay Club.

Tourism promoters are hoping couples of all kinds will be tempted by sunset cruises, spa treatments for two and special deals at local hotels, complete with celebratory champagne. The organization's press release also helpfully includes the hours and locations at which same-sex couples can obtain a marriage license in the O.C.

Weddings and nuptial-related events are one of the top tourist draws for the upscale beach community, said Audrey Leoncio, marketing and public relations manager for the Newport Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau. Orange County voters overwhelmingly supported the 2000 ballot initiative defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. But Newport's same-sex vacation packages aren't a political statement, Leoncio said.

"In general, weddings is just a huge business for us," said Leoncio. "All of it is welcome."

--Susannah Rosenblatt

Bakersfield: 'History is made' with a double wedding

Flower

Doris Weddell of Bakersfield had double reason to celebrate. Two of her four daughters were exchanging vows just outside the Kern County clerk’s office.

Whitney Weddell, 43, and Tracy Weddell, 48, each took a legal spouse on a tree-shaded patio after filling out licenses. They had to use the outdoor forum, and volunteer ministers, because Kern County Clerk Ann Barnett had stopped performing all civil marriages before Tuesday.

Both Weddell sisters were thrilled that they could finally give their mother a reason to get dressed up. And Doris Weddell, 75, was just as happy.

“I’m on a high. This is way up there. It’s like childbearing,” said Doris.

Tracy Weddell, wearing a silk vest, exchanged vows with Sylvia Simms, 61, also in a vest. They’ve been together 26 years.

“It’s been the longest engagement ever,” said Simms.

Whitney Weddell was up next, exchanging vows with Lori Renee, 46.

"We’re all blushing brides,” said Whitney Weddell, a leader in Bakersfield’s gay-rights community. “I’m so excited. I love this woman.”

At least a dozen couples were wed by the volunteer officiants by 11 a.m. Molly McKay, an officiant from Marriage Equality Now, travelled from Oakland to join together Whitney and Lori. As she said, “I pronounce you legally married,” a crowd of 200 cheered and threw rose petals.

“History is made,” McKay said.

Charlotte Weddell, Whitney’s twin sister, who was also on hand, said she was cognizant of the day’s significance, especially in conservative Kern County.

“I don’t think they expected this to happen in our lifetime,” Charlotte Weddell said.

Shawn Brandon, 36, standing at the edge of the jubilant crowd, quietly snapped shots on his cell phone.

Brandon, who works as a marketing executive in downtown Bakersfield, had worried that things “might get ugly.”

However, there was no organized opposition in sight, save for a lone protester, whom police quickly escorted to the sidewalk.

“My biggest fear was that people would be yelling and screaming and Bakersfield would go down in history like the segregationists back in the '60s,” Brandon said. “I’m so relieved that it’s just a lot of people being happy.”

Those photos? He e-mailed them to a gay friend in San Francisco, with a text message: “Hey –- no hubbub.”

A few feet away in a county employee cafe, two young women walked from the outside marriage area snickering to each other.

“Don’t worry, this is only temporary,” one said to the other. They refused to provide their names.

-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: Sisters Tracy Weddell, right, and Whitney Weddell each married partners in Kern County today.

Photo credit: Brian VanderBrug/Los Angeles Times

Norwalk witness: No time for a shower; 'just put product in my hair.'

Barbaro Ciro Barbaro, 56, and Steven Van Zile, 44, had intended to get a license in Norwalk on Tuesday for a later ceremony. But when they arrived at 7:45 a.m., they changed their minds.

“We saw all the colored balloons in the parking lot, so well organized, and we thought we’d just get married,” Barbaro said.

So the pair picked up their cellphones, called their witnesses and summoned them to Norwalk.

Don Lucas said that he was watching "The Today Show" when he got a call from Barbaro and Van Zile.

“I grabbed a Red Bull and a nectarine and jumped in the car," Lucas said. "I didn’t even take a shower. Just put product in my hair.”

But as of 10:15, the second witness was still stuck in traffic, and so the three men were waiting in the tents outside.

Barbaro works in marketing research; Van Zile is the director of property management for the Skid Row housing trust. They live in Baldwin Hills, and have been together since late 1993.

All three men were wearing matching striped suits. They joked that they looked like the cast of "Guys and Dolls."

-- Jessica Garrison

Photo: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times

Ciro Barbaro, right, gets a hug from friend Maura Smith, who rushed down to witness the wedding of Barbaro to his partner, Steven Van Zile.

Los Angeles City Hall: A staff affair on the south lawn

Piano It's not every day you see an upright piano on the south lawn of Los Angeles City Hall. But that was the backdrop as Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti officiated at one of the first state-sanctioned lesbian weddings in the city.

With Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa traveling in Israel, Garcetti is the acting mayor. And since he recently was deputized to officiate at weddings, Garcetti presided at the wedding of Shane Goldsmith and Monica Granados, who met and fell in love while working in his City Hall office.

"In front of friends and family, they proclaim their love to the world," said Garcetti, standing next to a podium and a vase full of white roses.

It was an all-office event for Garcetti's staff. Economic development advisor Sarah Dusseault sang "When I Fall in Love." Spokeswoman Julie Wong accompanied her on piano. 

Granados and Goldsmith, both residents of West Los Angeles, kissed after the councilman read the vows.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Granados.

-- David Zahniser

Photo: Eric Garcetti plays the piano at the wedding ceremony of Shane Goldsmith and Monica Granados.

Credit: David Zahniser / Los Angeles Times

Indio: 'It's America. And it's really happening'

Lang In Indio, there was a party atmosphere as same-sex couples streamed into a Riverside County administrative building where they had reservations to obtain marriage licenses.

"It's America. And it's really happening," said Darlene Lindstrom, 52, of Landers, who was preparing to marry her partner of five years, Marilyn Lang, 58. "It's a marriage, and it's going to last forever. We are not at the back of the bus."

Lang, a retired Social Security Administration worker, and Lindstrom, a retired law enforcement officer, met at the Metropolitan Community Church of the Coachella Valley in Cathedral City. The couple made an appointment with the Riverside County clerk as quickly as possible after the court ruling in favor of same-sex marriages; they were thrilled to receive one of the first time slots.

After obtaining their license, they were scheduled to have a wedding ceremony at their church in front of family and friends. Lang said she would be taking Lindstrom's last name -- "and I don't give that out easily," Lindstrom said with a laugh. Lang and Lindstrom said they believed same-sex marriage would withstand a ballot initiative in November. "We ask people to think about how they would feel if they were in love and denied the right to marry," Lindstrom said.

Asked what she loved most about her soon-to-be spouse, Lindstrom said: "She's a Christian. Look at that face."

"She's a compassionate person," Lang replied with a laugh: "And I love her legs."

Colavito

The first license of the day was issued by Assistant County Clerk Socorro Romero to 43-year-old Philip Colavito and 44-year-old Dean Seymour of Palm Springs. The couple went to Indio because it is one of only two places in the county where licenses were available.

With a bank of photographers kneeling before them, Colavito and Seymour filled out an "Application/Worksheet for Marriage License" first. The form had two columns -- "Applicant A's Personal Data" and "Applicant B's Personal Data." Just weeks ago, the column headings read "Bride" and "Groom."

"It's getting a little more legal every minute," Seymour said as he filled out the form. He acknowledged that he had butterflies, though he said: "We accepted the responsibility of marriage a long time ago."

The couple has been together eight years.

Seymour handed the clerk a check; Romero handed the couple a standard brochure called "Your Future Together." Then she administered an oath requiring them to attest that everything on the documents was accurate.

"We're official," Seymour whispered to Colavito.

And they were -- almost. The clerk summoned over the two women who would witness the marriage application. One was Millie Ambrosino, 89, Colavito's aunt. The other was Winona Guitreau, 69, Seymour's mother.

"Congratulations!" Romero told the couple, who then strolled across the street, where they would be joined in the first same-sex marriage ceremony in Riverside County.

-- Scott Gold

Photos by Irfan Khan /Los Angeles Times. Top: Marilyn Lang, left, and Darlene Lindstrom at the Indio clerk's office. Bottom: Dean Seymour, left, and Philip Colavito look over paperwork.

Norwalk: County clerk's staff at the ready for gay marriages

Dean By 8:30 a.m., Dean Logan, the acting registrar-recorder/county clerk for Los Angeles County,  was pulling a black robe on over his suit, ready to perform the first ceremony of the morning at his agency's main office in Norwalk.

"There's a lot of excitement in the air," Logan said. No staff members have declined to officiate at a same-sex ceremony, and Logan had plenty of volunteers to help if his office was overwhelmed.  And, of course, he was pitching in himself.

"I wanted to do a ceremony to set an example for the staff," Logan said. "It's important people recognize we have a responsibility to provide the services required of us by law ... just as we have to administer elections objectively without regard to who's winning or losing."

--Tami Abdollah

Photo:  Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times

West Hollywood: A happy star's trek to a wedding license

Sulu_2 The media swarmed "Star Trek" actor George Takei as he and his partner, Brad Altman, boldly went where few had gone before.

"I think it's a glorious California morning to make history,'' said Takei, beaming before a clutch of reporters and TV cameras. The actor played played Mr. Sulu, the helmsman on the starship Enterprise, on the original Star Trek series. "Congratulations to all of us: May equality live long and prosper."

Even as the media focused on them, other couples were filing into an auditorium that had been converted to a licensing facility by the county. Marriages were to be performed in the park outside the auditorium. West Hollywood City Council members were deputized to officiate, along with senior city staffers. Clergymen were also on hand to perform religious ceremonies.

One man in a red devil's mask held a sign that read: "Pervert weddings done here."

---Duke Helfand

Photo: Barbara Davison/Los Angeles Times

Florence-Firestone: 'We ... decided to make a life together'

Purple At the cramped county clerk's office in the Florence-Firestone district, Florastine Hillis, 30, a county probation officer, and Asusena Montes, 32, a youth shelter worker, arrived with their 2-year-old daughter, Kayla. 

The couple met sharing a cab from the train station to a dormitory at Fresno State in 1996 and remained friends for several years before becoming romantically involved in 2004.

Montes said, "We started hanging out more and decided to make a life together."

The couple lives in Bell Gardens. In 2005, Hillis' brother donated sperm so Montes could give birth to Kayla. Hillis hopes she is now pregnant with sperm donated by Montes' brother.

-- Sam Quinones

Florastine Hillis, left, and Asusena Montes with their daugher, Kayla, 2.

Beverly Hills: Gay marriage is never simple

They have lived together since 1994, and exchanged rings years ago.  Yet there they were on the steps of the Beverly Hills Courthouse at 8:29 a.m., clutching cameras. 

"We wanted to do this before the opportunity was taken away," said Sam Thurber, 39, an emergency and trauma physician, who came with his betrothed, Ned James Beedie, 37, a PhD student in psychology.

Thurber was optimistic that the initiative in November seeking to ban gay marriage would fail. But he and Beedie decided they would hedge their bets.

Nothing is ever simple with gay marriage, he said: "Britney Spears can get married in a Vegas chapel one night, and get divorced the next day, and no one thinks about it," he said.

-- Jennifer Oldham

Gay marriage in California

On the first full day that same-sex marriage is legal in California, Times reporters are posting scenes from around the state on L.A. Now. Their vignettes appear in the blog. For the latest Times news story on gay marriage, click here.

Norwalk: Protester: 'I'm concerned about America breaking down'

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Cindy Gise, 59, a retired teacher from Santa Clarita, and Elaine Martin, 61, met at a Cal State Northridge sorority 40 years ago.

"For me it was love at first sight, it really was,'' said Gise outside the courthouse in Norwalk. The pair were dressed in matching Hawaiian shirts and khaki pants.

Early in their friendship, she told Martin: "You need to know this about me and I don't want to scare you. I'm lesbian, but there are no strings attached."

"Two days later, [Martin] comes up to me with two lollipops with one big great string and said, 'I want strings!'"

Three weeks ago, on the last leg of a 50-state tour, Gise proposed to Martin in Alabama. "We've been to all 50 states but this journey's not over,'' she said. "Will you marry me?"

Standing out in the jubilant crowd was a lone protester holding a sign reading:  "Marriage is to be held in honor. Heb 3:4."

"I'm concerned about America breaking down,'' said Karen Wilson, 51, a driver for a trucking company. "This is just adding to it."

Jaasiel Elias, 20, and his bride-to-be, Sarai Hernandez, 20, took a minute to realize they were in line just ahead of a stream of same-sex couples.

"Then,'' he said, "it clicked."

--Tami Abdollah

Photo: Elaine Martin,61, left, and Cindy Gise, 59, outside the courthouse.

Photo credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

West Hollywood: Rose petals and cupcakes

At West Hollywood Park, outside the auditorium on San Vicente Boulevard, gay-rights activists turned the walkway and steps into a makeshift wedding altar, with white rose petals strewn across a blue carpet, and a big white ribbon and balloons.

It's the site where "Star Trek" actor George Takei and his partner, Brad Altman, are going to get their license and get married this morning. There's a banner hanging over the brick facade of the park auditorium that says "Happy Nuptials! It's a Celebration"

Gay couples pose for photographs. A publicist for Mrs. Beasley's bakery hands out 300 sets of cupcakes decorated with symbols for men and women, chocolate and vanilla.

"If you'll notice, they're also biracial," says publicist David Beckwith. "Mrs. Beasley's loves everyone." Among the people who will speak in West Hollywood are L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and the mayor of West Hollywood.

-- Duke Helfand

Norwalk: A warm reception

Outside a row of courthouse windows where licenses were being issued, a group of five people from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach were handing out long-stem red roses, with green notes tied to them saying, "Standing on the side of love ... with all best wishes from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach."

Church member Sandra Kroll said: "We're celebrating with whoever is getting married today, including the heterosexual couples. We're handing out roses to everybody." Chelsea Thompson, 24, of Anaheim and Bonni Millon, 24 of Long Beach, who arrived at 10 p.m. Monday to get an early spot in line, were still navigating the phalanx of windows and booths they had to go to to for their license and ceremony.

At 9 a.m., after having been led from one station to another, often in the wrong direction, they were finally picking up their license. Standing at that window, Thompson rested her head on Millon's shoulder. Thompson appeared slightly flushed, and Millon caressed her cheek and whispered words of comfort to her.

-- Tami Abdollah

Beverly Hills: 'We're like any other couple'

First in line at the Beverly Hills courthouse, where couples started gathering at 6:30 a.m., were Oshea Orchid, 25, a union rep, and Errica Hunter, 25, a dental assistant. Orchid said she called in sick so she could be at the courthouse early.

Hollywood residents, the women got engaged four months ago but didn't know exactly how they could get married. The court ruling, it turned out, was perfect timing.

Both were decked out in white: Orchid was wearing cowboy boots and a white miniskirt, Hunter a white vest and white shirt and pants. Both wore fedoras.

The courthouse wasn't crowded, and the relative calm seemed just right. "All those people going crazy in West Hollywood makes it seem more important that this is legal now," said Orchid, adding that she was concentrating on solidifying their relationship.

Added Hunter: "We're like any other couple. We fell in love and we're getting married."

-- Jennifer Oldham

San Diego: 'I am a Marine. I like to do things first'

Kiss Amid flowers and tears and balloons, Bob Lehman and Tom Felkner became San Diego’s first same-sex married couple. Lehman, a former Marine, and Felkner were married by Lehman’s brother, Jeff, a retired Marine.

“I’m a Marine. I like to do things first,” said Bob Lehman. The couple, both 43, have lived together for 15 years. Throughout the early morning hours, same-sex couples streamed into the county building to get their licenses. Four county employees were stationed on the broad lawn outside to perform weddings.

The second couple, Bonnie Russell, 64, and Jan Garbosky, 61, both retired teachers, plan an October wedding, but wanted to be early in getting the license. “We’re old marrieds, but we are not yet married,” said Russell.

As couples emerged from the building with their licenses, cheers went up from family and friends. Some couples brought their children, their parents, and business associates. A lone protester stood on the sidewalk and cried out a message against same-sex marriage.

“It’s just not right for a man to marry a man, it’s just not normal,” said the protester, Dennis Agajanian, a member of Bikers for Christ. But his protest was largely drowned out by supporters and well-wishers. “Love is in the air today,” said Margaux Lanoie, a volunteer with the Equality for All Campaign.

-- Tony Perry

Photo:  AP

Bob Lehman, left, and Tom Felkner share a kiss during their ceremony.