The Santa Clara County Clerk’s office issued more than twice as many marriage licenses as usual in its first day since a federal court lifted a stay on same-sex marriages late last week.
Santa Clara County had issued 86 marriage licenses to couples by late afternoon today, more than double the average 40 licenses the county issued on an average day before Friday’s court decision, Clerk-Recorder Regina Alcomendras said.
County employees used walkie-talkies to communicate when the office opened at 8 a.m. as 10 couples waited outside the entrance to the County Government Center in San Jose, Alcomendras said.
“The first hour was full, but it went smoothly after that,” Alcomendras said. “We really didn’t have a flowing issue, it was just busier. It was peaceful.”
With up to 27 license stations available, the county had given out 86 official documents to gay and straight couples by 4:15 p.m. with others coming at the last minute before the 4:30 p.m. closing time, Alcomendras said.
Thirty-five couples had used the county’s first-ever Express Ceremony service, allowing them to be married by a clerk right at the licensing station or by Board of Supervisors President Ken Yeager in his 10th floor office, Alcomendras said.
Yeager had performed at least 10 of the Express Marriages by about 4 p.m., including the first same-sex wedding of the day this morning to San Jose residents Eva and Trish Kedar, he said.
Couple number 10 was Ariane Chapple, 31, and Rustie Chapple, 35, also of San Jose, who like the others paid their $110 fee for an Express Wedding and asked Yeager to perform it.
The two have been together for the past 11 years, had an unofficial wedding in Pacific Grove in 2006 and honeymooned in the Dominican Republic.
They were happy but matter-of-fact about finally being joined legally. The more pressing issue was that Ariane is six months pregnant, via a sperm donor.
“We are expecting and we want to make it official,” Rustie said before their wedding. “We’ll probably go out to dinner afterwards.”
“I think we both feel more secure, especially with the baby,” Ariane said.
Yeager said it was “a first for me” as a marriage official to marry a pregnant prospective spouse.
Dressed in a black judge’s robe, he welcomed the couple into his corner office with Ariane’s mother, Karen Tyler, 59, and sister, Nicole Tyler, 26, serving as witnesses.
As he performed the brief ceremony, the Chapples faced each other, held hands, exchanged vows and rings and kissed.
“It is very gratifying to be here today,” Yeager told them. “All Californians have the right to establish a family with the person that they love and we’ve all waited a very long time for this day and we’re glad that it’s finally here.”
Afterward, the couple posed for pictures with Yeager in his office and in front of a large Rainbow flag on a wall outside it.
“More official, more equal I guess you can say,” Rustie said of her feelings after the ceremony.
The clerk-recorder’s office closed on Friday at 4:30 p.m. before receiving any same-sex marriage applications.
Hours earlier, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 3-0 to withdraw its 2010 stay of a lower court order that allowed gay and lesbian marriages.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal of the lower court decision by backers of Proposition 8, an initiative passed by California voters in 2008 that banned same-sex marriages.
Jeff Burbank, Bay City News