Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

California gay marriage couple wed

Craig Stein kisses Bobby Meadows as they are married at City Hall in San Francisco (AP)
Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami are married by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (AP)

The winners in the US Supreme Court case that overturned California's same-sex marriage ban have tied the knot at San Francisco City Hall, about an hour after a federal appeals court freed same-sex couples to obtain marriage licences for the first time in four years.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris presided at the wedding of Kris Perry, 48, and Sandy Stier, 50, as hundreds of supporters looked on and cheered. The couple sued to overturn the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban along with Jeff Katami and Paul Zarrillo, who planned to marry on Friday evening at Los Angeles City Hall.

"By joining the case against Proposition 8, they represented thousands of couples like themselves in their fight for marriage equality," Ms Harris, who had asked the appeals court to act swiftly, said during the brief ceremony. Through the ups and downs, the struggles and the triumphs, they came out victorious."

She declared them "spouses for life," but during their vows, they took each other as "lawfully wedded wife". One of their twin sons served as ring-bearer.

Although the couple have fought for the right to wed for years, their wedding came after a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals issued a brief order on Friday afternoon dissolving, "effective immediately," a stay it imposed on gay marriages while the lawsuit challenging the ban advanced through the courts.

Sponsors of California's same-sex marriage ban called the appeals court's swift action "outrageous". Andy Pugno, for a coalition of religious conservative groups that sponsored Proposition 8, said: "The resumption of same-sex marriage this day has been obtained by illegitimate means.

"If our opponents rejoice in achieving their goal in a dishonourable fashion, they should be ashamed. It remains to be seen whether the fight can go on, but either way, it is a disgraceful day for California."

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Wednesday that Proposition 8's sponsors lacked authority to defend the measure in court once Ms Harris and Governor Jerry Brown, both Democrats, refused to do so.

The decision lets stand a trial judge's declaration that the ban, approved by voters in November 2008, violates the civil rights of gay Californians and cannot be enforced.

Under Supreme Court rules, the losing side in a legal dispute has 25 days to ask the high court to rehear the case. The court said earlier this week that it would not finalise its ruling in the Proposition 8 case until after that time had elapsed. It was not immediately clear whether the appeals court's action would be halted by the high court, but Mr Brown directed California counties to start performing same-sex marriages immediately in the wake of it.

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