Same-sex marriage is back on in California.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today lifted its stay on its affirmation that Prop. 8, the voter-approved ban on gay marriage, is unconstitutional. In other words, its decision had been on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in. The high court dismissed the case Wednesday, kicking it back to California for this momentous occasion:
In a terse statement emailed at 3:22 p.m., the Ninth Circuit said:
The stay in the above matter is dissolved effective immediately.
The move allows county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples ASAP.
On my way to S.F. City Hall. Let the wedding bells ring! #Prop8
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 28, 2013
It came after Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris urged the court to lift its stay despite the usual 25-day waiting period for a Supreme Court decision to become official.
An expert told us the Ninth Circuit could go ahead and lift the stay without running into problems with the high court.
We have a call into the L.A. County Registrar to determine when it might be ready to start issuing licenses.
[Added at 3:45 p.m.]: Elizabeth Knox, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office, says marriages aren't happening locally just yet:
We have not received official notice from California Department of Public Health or the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. No change in the issuance of marriage licenses can occur until further notice. Upon direction, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk will begin issuing licenses and performing ceremonies for same-sex couples.
9th Circuit lifts stay on marriage licenses. You can get married now :) - but don't rush into anything ! Gay divorce is also possible !
— John Duran (@JohnDuran) June 28, 2013
[Added at 3:59 p.m.]: Kamala Harris' office emailed this statement from the state Attorney General:
I am thrilled that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay to allow same-sex couples to legally marry in California. Gay and lesbian couples have waited so long for this day and for their fundamental right to marry. Finally, their loving relationships are as legitimate and legal as any other.
[Added at 4:24 p.m.]: Gov. Jerry Brown's office says it has officially notified county clerks that they can start certifying same-sex marriages:
At the direction of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., the California Department of Public Health has notified clerks and registrar/recorders in all 58 California counties that same-sex marriage is now legal in California and that marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples immediately.
Additionally, Harris retweeted information indicating she phoned the L.A. County registrar's office to tell them they can start marrying same-sex couples.
[Added at 4:35 p.m.]: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be officiating same-sex marriages tonight, a spokeswoman confirmed. Details to come.
[Added at 5:08 p.m.]: The city clerk of San Francisco confirmed via Twitter that what appears to be the first same-sex marriage since the stay was lifted happened at S.F. City Hall about 4:07 p.m., with Harris officiating over the union of one of the plaintiff couples.
At 4:07 PM I stood w/ #Prop8 lawsuit plaintiffs & AG Kamala Harris called to advise of authority to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses
— Dean Logan, RR/CC (@lacountyrrcc) June 28, 2013
Meanwhile Villaraigosa's office announced that at 6:15 p.m. he'll preside over the marriage of the other plaintiff couple in the Supreme Court case, Burbank's Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, at City Hall.
[Added at 5:21 p.m.]: The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/Clerk's office says it will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples "effective immediately."
But while the office says in a statement that it has "expanded the capacity for marriage licensing and civil marriage ceremonies" no one at the office could specify for the Weekly exactly what that meant in terms of possible expanded hours.
In fact a spokeswoman told us the office was closed at 5 p.m., apparently shutting the door on licenses today and perhaps putting a cloud over Villaraigosa's big show at 6:15 p.m.
Harris, meanwhile, said she "had a little talk with the clerk in L.A. because there seemed to be some confusion" about its ability to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Perhaps there's still some confusion.
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-With reporting from LA Weekly staff writer Gene Maddaus.