SAN DIEGO - Same-sex couples were married Monday the County Administration Center in San Diego Monday for the first time since the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, under which Proposition 8 was struck down as unconstitutional.
Couples lined up outside the building early Monday to be married with San Diego's scenic waterfront as a backdrop.
Stephanie Torres and Susan Hartman, together for 21 years, were the first to be married. They wore Hawaiian shirts and sandals.
Gay rights activist Fernando Lopez officiated the ceremony, and at the end, he said, "I now pronounce you spouses for life," not "man and wife" as defined by Prop. 8 in 2008.
"This is just awesome," Hartman said. "I was waiting such a long time to be here."
"This is my best friend," Torres said. "She's my rock."
In November 2008, voters approved Proposition 8, which effectively banned same-sex marriages by defining marriage as a legal union between and man and a woman.
A federal judge found the law unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court justices rejected an appeal by supporters of the initiative, leaving the lower court ruling to stand.
On Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals waived a 25-day waiting period for the ruling to take effect.
Joseph Bruglio and Chris Harris have a wedding planned at the church in August, so they did not waste any time rushing over to the county's administration building.
"We were first in line to get a license, to try to get a license, and they weren't ready for us," Harris explained.
Val Wood of the county Assessor/Recorder/Clerk's office, said her office has been inundated by phone calls. She told City News Service that couples need an appointment to buy wedding licenses and arrange for a civil ceremony done by county employees.
"We were all taken by surprise that the 9th Circuit had lifted the stay so quickly and without any warning," Wood said.
Wood called the hallway outside her door "the hall of happiness" and seemed excited they were able to set more marriages in motion.
On Wednesdays this summer, however, walk-ins will be accepted, and everyone who has their required papers in order before 5 p.m. that day will be married, according to Wood.
"It's going to be very popular this Wednesday, because there will be a lot of couples," Wood said, adding that all walk-ins need to have proper identification.
Outside, Torres and Hartman had their rings on, which they bought 13 years ago. They were beaming with the thought the rings would be recognized as more than an accessory.
"What changes now?" 10News reporter Hannah Mullins asked.
"We're recognized by our government," Torres said. "We're equal. We've had times where we've had people -- family members, really -- who said that we weren't the same as their marriage, and that's not the case anymore."
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