SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A wave of weddings were performed in San Francisco City Hall on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decisions to restore same-sex marriages to California, as defeated backers of the state's gay marriage ban filed a last-ditch effort to halt the ceremonies.
Less than 24 hours after California started issuing marriage licenses to same gender couples, lawyers for the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom filed an emergency petition to the high court Saturday asking it to halt the weddings on the grounds that its decision was not yet legally final. They claimed the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals acted prematurely and unfairly on Friday when it allowed gay marriage to resume by lifting a hold that had been placed on same sex unions.
The motion was filed as dozens of couples in jeans, shorts, white dresses and the occasional military uniform filled City Hall to obtain marriage licenses. On Friday, 81 same sex couples received marriage licenses.
Although a few clerk's offices around the state stayed open late on Friday, San Francisco, which is holding its annual gay pride celebration this weekend, was the only jurisdiction to hold weekend hours so that same sex couples could take advantage of their newly restored right, Clerk Karen Hong said.
A sign posted on the door of the office where a long line of couples waited to fill out applications listed the price for a license, a ceremony or both above the words "Equality=Priceless."
"We really wanted to make this happen," Hong said, adding that her whole staff and a group of volunteers came into work without having to be asked. "It's spontaneous, which is great in its own way."
The timing couldn't have been better for California National Guard Capt. Michael Potoczniak, 38, and his partner of 10 years, Todd Saunders, 47, of El Cerrito.
Potoczniak, who joined the Guard after the military's ban on openly gay service was repealed almost two years ago, was scheduled to fly out Sunday night for a month of basic training in Texas.
"I woke up this morning, shook him awake and said, 'Let's go,'" said Potoczniak, who chose to get married in his Army uniform. "It's something that people need to see because everyone is so used to uniforms at military weddings."
Also waiting to wed Saturday were Scott Kehoe, 34, and his fiance, Aurelien Bricker, 24. After finding out on Facebook that the city was issuing same sex marriage licenses Friday, the San Francisco couple rushed out to Tiffany's to buy wedding rings.
"We were afraid of further legal challenges in the state," Kehoe said.
The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Proposition 8's backers lacked standing to defend the 2008 law because California's governor and attorney general have declined to defend the ban.
Then on Friday, the 9th Circuit appeared to have removed the last obstacle to making same sex matrimony legal again in California when it removed its hold on a lower court's 2010 order directing state officials to stop enforcing the ban.