With state leaders convinced that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Proposition 8 this morning paves the way for same-sex marriages to resume soon in California, counties are preparing for an influx of couples wanting to tie the knot.

San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu said this morning that she is getting her office ready for an anticipated flurry of same-sex weddings.

County offices have been advised by the state Department of Public Health that marriage licenses can be issued to same-sex couples only after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifts a stay that had kept Proposition 8 in effect during the appeal process.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris said today she plans to ask the 9th Circuit to lift the stay quickly, even before the Supreme Court ruling becomes final in about a month.

Chu said she expects thousands of same-sex couples to wed in San Francisco in the coming months.

In 2004, when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom surprised nearly everyone by allowing same-sex weddings in the city shortly after taking office, roughly 4,000 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in about a month’s time. Those marriages were later voided by the state Supreme Court.

When same-sex marriage became legal for a brief period in 2008 before Proposition 8 took effect, about 18,000 gay and lesbian couples wed statewide. Those unions are still recognized.

In the wake of today’s Supreme Court ruling, preparations are also under way in Santa Cruz County.

County Clerk Gail Pellerin said today, “I am thrilled with the outcome and look forward to issuing marriage licenses and conducting marriage ceremonies for our same-sex couples as soon as possible.”

Updates on marriage plans in the county will be posted at sccoclerk.com.

In Santa Clara County, the clerk-recorder’s office issued a statement today outlining plans to have 27 service windows ready to process marriage license applications at the county government center in San Jose.

The office has deputized employees to perform weddings and will call on community volunteers for backup if there is high demand.

The county is also offering a new service, an “express marriage ceremony” beginning July 1 that allows couples to walk in and have a ceremony performed at a service window without an appointment. The new service costs about $120 in fees, while a regular ceremony costs about $80.

In anticipation of a high volume of marriages, two wedding chapel facilities have been added to complement the existing chapel.

This will allow up to 17 ceremonies per day at each of the three chapels.

Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Joseph Canciamilla said today that his office is ready to issue marriage licenses once the state gives the go-ahead, and that employees are prepared to handle “pent-up demand.”

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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