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New: Berkeley Couple Ties the Knot in San Francisco

By Sara Gaiser and Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Friday June 28, 2013 - 11:31:00 PM

Couples rushed into San Francisco City Hall to get married this evening after a court ruling repealing a 2008 ballot measure banning same-sex marriage was enacted.  

Kris Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley, two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to Proposition 8's repeal, were married just before 5 p.m. today at San Francisco City Hall, shortly after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals cleared same-sex marriages to resume.  

State Attorney General Kamala Harris performed the hastily organized ceremony this afternoon before a crowd of media and bystanders numbering in the hundreds. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, state Sen. Mark Leno and Supervisor Eric Mar were among the officials also attending.  

As the ceremony got underway on the balcony under the rotunda, Harris told the smiling couple clad in a matching beige suit and dress that she could not be "more honored as I stand here today to join them." 

Harris briefly spoke about the couple's 14 years together and their desire to get married. The two had been married once before at San Francisco City Hall in 2004 when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered county clerks to issue same-sex marriage licenses, but the California Supreme Court nullified their marriage later that year. 

"They have waited, hoped and fought for this moment," Harris said. "Today their wait is finally over."  

The couple, who were joined by one of their sons, Elliott Perry, as ringbearer, then exchanged vows and rings and were pronounced "spouses for life." They said they plan to have another family celebration later so that all their family members can attend.  

"What we wanted so desperately was for our sons to know that we love them enough to fight to be married," Perry said following the ceremony.  

And for everyone else still fighting to get married, Perry said, "we will fight with you." 

"We love you, we love your children and we think you all deserve to have this," Perry said.  

Everyone involved in today's ceremony professed surprise about the speed that marriages were allowed to resume after a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this week effectively repealed Proposition 8. 

The high court's decision would not take effect until late July, but a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit today lifted a stay that had blocked gay and lesbian weddings while sponsors of Proposition 8 appealed that court's decision striking down the same-sex marriage ban.  

"We were thrilled, because every day that gays and lesbians can't get married is too many," said Stier. 

Clearly many others agreed. As word of the court's decision filtered out, couples rushed to City Hall to get their wedding licenses. The city clerk's office stayed open late to accommodate the rush and a number of impromptu weddings were performed around the building.  

Jessica Flintoft and Tara Cohen, of Oakland, had texted each other as soon as the decision was announced and hurried over to City Hall. They said they planned to get married there this evening.  

"We had a wedding a year ago," Cohen said. "We've been together for five years." 

Daly City residents Thom Watson and Jeff Tabaco said they have been together 10 years and have had a commitment ceremony, but had never tied the knot until now.  

"We decided not to marry in 2008, because we knew Proposition 8 was on the ballot and we didn't want to have our marriage annulled," as had happened with some marriages performed in 2004, Tabaco said.  

The couple said they had stood in line at the City Clerk's office in 2010, after the 9th Circuit ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional, but then learned the court had issued a stay on same-sex marriages. 

Mayor Ed Lee issued a statement saying City Hall would stay open until 8 p.m. tonight for anyone looking to exercise their freshly restored right to marry, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said he will be joined by both plaintiff couples from the successful challenge to Proposition 8 on Sunday in the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade, along with other advocates. Herrera has served as co-counsel on the case alongside attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies since 2009, when the city intervened as a co-plaintiff.  

"Who could think of a better beginning to Pride weekend?" Herrera said.