Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Same-sex couples take their vows in Marin

By Nancy Isles Nation
Tuesday June 17, 2008
Click here for the on-line Marin Independent Journal article

ALLISON JOHNSON wore a white beaded gown and carried a bouquet of pink roses, while Victoria Gould was in a black tux with a pink vest and tie and a pink rose boutonniere. Their faces glowed Tuesday as they beamed at friends while becoming the first same-sex couple to be legally wed in Marin.

The two were surrounded by well-wishers at the fountain in the court garden at the Marin County Civic Center. There were giggles, hugs and bursts of applause.

Deputy County Clerk Olga Lobato instructed the couple to face each other and hold hands as she began the ceremony. "Today, we make history," Lobato said. "It is an honor for me to perform this marriage ceremony for my two friends Victoria and Allison." A few tears slipped down Gould's cheek as she and Johnson exchanged rings.

Their son, Jackson, 2, scrambled in the grass with a little girl in a flower-print dress. He was dressed in a mini-tux with pink accessories - just like Gould.

Gould, who works in the Marin County District Attorney's Office, was the first person to take out a marriage license with the county clerk's office, having run up the stairs as soon as she heard the state Supreme Court had overturned a ban on same-sex marriage six weeks ago.

Her boss, District Attorney Edward Berberian and many of his deputies, took time out to attend, while members of the Board of Supervisors watched from the terrace outside their chambers. Afterward, there was wedding cake and sparkling cider in a conference room in the district attorney's office.

Johnson was surrounded by co-workers in the county's social services department.

Theirs was the first of many weddings. By the end of the day, there had been 14 same-sex weddings and 35 licenses issued.

Marin County Clerk Michael Smith noted that many of the weddings he officiated involved couples who had been together for 30 years or longer.

Couples lined up outside the office were beaming, not minding the wait.

John Campbell and Michael Gonsalves, together for 33 years, were waiting for godsons to arrive for their 11 a.m. wedding. "I was surprised I could find someone who could stand me for so long," said Campbell, a private investigator. The newlyweds are planning a celebration near their Mount Tamalpais home this summer.

Sara Taylor and Sherrie Holmes of Novato got their license after 18 years together. The Rev. Jane Spahr of San Rafael is going to marry them on Friday in front of about 50 people, including their daughter, Katrina Holmes. "To be able to marry my wonderful friends feels so liberating," Spahr said. "We are no longer second class - we are equal."

Spahr was censured by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for officiating at the weddings of two lesbian couples, but the move was overturned in April when the church said she did not violate denominational law.

Naia Lopez and Francis Aitken, a heterosexual couple, smiled as they left the clerk's office with their marriage certificate in hand. The two 23-year-olds said they had forgotten that Tuesday was the first day homosexual couples in Marin could take out marriage licenses when they decided to start preparations for their marriage that morning.

They said they thought the occasion was great and were happy to be a part of it.

"We'll remember it," Aitken said.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

LGBT Organizations Urge Couples Marrying in California to "Make Change, Not Lawsuits"

NEW YORK - Four LGBT legal organizations and five other leading national LGBT groups have issued a statement entitled "Make Change, Not Lawsuits."

The statement explains that while couples who go to California to marry should ask friends, neighbors and institutions to honor their marriages, they generally shouldn't sue.

The statement says that ill-timed lawsuits are likely to set the fight for marriage back, and that there are other ways to fight which are more likely to win.

Access the advisory online at:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Same-sex pairs plan nuptials despite protests, ballot threat

By Jim Staats
Monday June 9, 2008
Click here for the on-line Marin Independent Journal article

AT LEAST 13 SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ceremonies are planned next week at the Marin Civic Center, and officials are preparing for many more that haven't been scheduled.
"We anticipate we'll be a little busy on the 17th," said Marin County Clerk Michael Smith. He said six ceremonies were scheduled Tuesday with seven more later in the week.

"We recognize this is really a significant date with a significant change," he said. "We just don't know what the foot traffic will be. What we want to do is accommodate individuals coming in to pull a license or perform a ceremony. We will work with them to get through that workload."

Smith said his office will have extra staff available Tuesday, the first day county clerks are authorized to begin issuing marriage licenses in response to the California Supreme Court's May 15 ruling reversing a statutory ban on same-sex marriages.

Technically, county clerks can begin issuing same-sex licenses at 5 p.m. Monday, which is when the California Department of Public Health's Office of Vital Records determined that the court ruling takes effect. San Francisco, which had asked the state to begin issuing licenses at the close of business Monday, will start at that time.

However, Smith said the Marin office would wait until Tuesday.

"The directive I have from the state is June 17, so we're going with the 17th," Smith said. "I guess San Francisco wants to be the first, and that's fine. We didn't have anyone request that date anyway." said office hours would be extended Tuesday as needed.

"If there is a line of people, we'll stay open as long as it takes to accommodate them," he said.

Smith said new state-certified marriage licenses referring to "Party A" and "Party B" rather than husband and wife should be back from the printers in time for next week.

Smith and other deputized employees will perform ceremonies.

"I'm supportive of individuals that come together in a caring, committed way," Smith said. "This is an important time for them."

New wedded unions could be fleeting, as an initiative that would outlaw gay marriage in California has qualified for the November ballot. The measure, known as the California Marriage Protection Act, would amend the state constitution to "provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

The start of same-sex marriages next week has sparked movement on both sides of the issue.

The Community Church of Mill Valley, a member of the United Church of Christ denomination, is one of several local parishes offering to perform same-sex weddings.

"We've always offered commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples," said the Rev. Pam Shortridge, noting she was not aware of any couples who had accepted the offer. "Now that (same-sex) marriage has been made legal in the state, it was just the logical next step."

The Rev. Doug Huneke, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon, said two couples have scheduled same-sex wedding ceremonies at the parish for July and August.

"My hunch is people are ready to move forward despite the uncertainty of this," he said. "I just think it's magnificent. The more of this that can happen, the better in my book."

On Monday morning, Ronald Brock parked his billboard-laden "Marriage Mobile" outside the Marin Civic Center to kick off a 15-county tour of county clerk offices.

The Southern California resident hopes to educate the public on the evils of gay marriage, which he said violates God's moral principle.

"We have judicial tyranny in this nation, and we are called on to resist it," Brock said. "What they are doing is sin, and it is wrong. The laws of this nation are established on God's law."

Friday, June 6, 2008

S.F. Church Offering To Marry Same Sex Couples Free of Charge for a Limited Time

With the state Supreme Court's historic decision allowing same sex couples to marry expected to go into effect on June 17th, appointments to be married at San Francisco City Hall are already completely booked from the 17th through July 15, according to the County Clerk's office.

Disappointed couples may not need to wait, however.

For those who would like to get married in the city as soon as possible, San Francisco's Swedenborgian Church is offering an alternative, church pastor Rev. Dr. Rachel Rivers announced today.

For a limited time beginning June 17th, couples may be married without charge at its beautiful Arts & Crafts style church at the corner of Lyon and Washington streets. "We want to help celebrate this momentous and long awaited opportunity," Dr. Rivers explained. "The San Francisco Swedenborgian Church has opened its doors for same sex couples to celebrate their commitment to one another in the church since receiving its first request in the early 1990s. Now, the church community and I are thrilled that we can participate legally, as well as spiritually, in celebrating these commitments of love."

The church is offering to perform ceremonies on five days in June:June 17, 18, 19, 25 and 26. In order to accommodate as many couples as possible, ceremonies will be kept short and simple, with a limit of 12 guests. While there is no charge, appointments are necessary.

To schedule a wedding or for more information, couples may call the Swedenborgian Church at 415-346-6466, extension 10.

For the marriage to be legal, the couple needs to bring a public marriage license obtained from any county in California. (Although appointments to obtain a marriage license at San Francisco City Hall are booked from June 17 ­- 30, marriage licenses may be obtained from surrounding counties; contact the specific counties for availability.)

The Swedenborgian Church bases its teachings on the Bible as illuminated by the works of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), a Swedish scientist and theologian.

For further information about the church, go to our website at:

For up to date information on appointments at San Francisco City Hall, go to:

Some county clerks resist gay marriage ruling where they can

By Amanda Fehd, Associated Press Writer
Friday, June 6, 2008
Click here for the on-line San Francisco Chronicle article

(06-06) 18:37 PDT San Francisco, CA (AP) --

As same-sex couples prepare to wed later this month, at least one county clerk in California's conservative Central Valley is preparing to sidestep the state high court's legalization of gay marriage by shutting down marriage ceremonies.

In fact, two Central Valley county clerks — Kern County's Ann Barnett and Merced County's Stephen Jones — issued statements this week stating they will issue the new gender-neutral marriage licenses as required by law on June 17, but refused to preside over any of the ceremonies, citing space and staff constraints.

In Barnett's case, she plans to stop performing marriage ceremonies for all couples as of June 14.
Barnett's announcement came after the clerk received advice from county lawyers that she could not refuse to marry only couples of her choosing. Barnett's office was also advised by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian law firm backing a November ballot initiative to ban gay marriage in California by amending the state's constitution.

Merced County's Jones said Friday he would end all ceremonies too, but later retracted his statement after coming under pressure from county officials.

Barnett had also asked county lawyers to file a brief with the Supreme Court opposing the implementation of its May ruling legalizing gay marriage, according to Kern county counsel Mark Nations. Nations was not sure whether the brief was ever filed, and it could not be found under the case's filings.

The Bakersfield Californian printed e-mails on Friday between a lawyer at the Alliance Defense Fund and a clerk in Barnett's office that indicated Barnett was worried about the legal implications of her actions. Glen Lavy, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said the e-mails reflected a routine request for legal advice, were confidential and should never have been printed.

Barnett did not return multiple requests for comment on Friday from The Associated Press.
Jones told the AP late Friday that he retracted his earlier statement after negotiations with the county resulted in approval of another clerk position to perform weddings and removal of some election equipment that will create more space. The small office performs 500 weddings a year.
"On the 17th I expect to be absolutely bombarded," Jones said.

The backlash in these counties is not surprising. In 2000 Kern County voters supported Proposition 22, which required marriage be between one-man and one-woman, with 80 percent, according to the California Secretary of State. Merced County voters supported Prop. 22 with 77 percent in favor.

Many other counties, including Fresno, San Diego and El Dorado, said they would be conducting business as usual.

"This is a very contentious issue, and we are getting calls from both sides. But our position is we follow the law," said Victor Salazar, Fresno County's clerk. "I took an oath to uphold the state constitution and the law and the court has spoken."

Other counties might be trying to stall through other loopholes.

Although the state Office of Vital Records directed county clerks to start using new gender-neutral marriage licenses once the Supreme Court's ruling becomes final at 5 p.m. on June 16, some counties are still unclear about whether they must issue the newly worded licenses the next day, said Stephen Weir, president of the California Association of Clerks and Election officials.

That's because in its May 15 decision the state Supreme Court also directed a midlevel appeals court that upheld the state's one man-one woman marriage laws a year ago to issue a new order legalizing same-sex marriage, and it's not clear when the appeals court must comply.

Weir said the clerk in Kings County has indicated he does not plan to grant the new licenses, which say "Party A" and "Party B" where "bride" and "groom" used to be, until the Court of Appeals takes that step. Weir said Kings County's legal counsel had advised the clerk to wait until the appeals court acts.

Kings County has posted a notice on its Web site saying it does "not anticipate any changes in our current marriage license procedures until such time as the lower court's implementation rulings take effect."

Kings County Clerk Ken Baird did not respond to a call seeking comment.

"They will draw attention to themselves and if they want to fight it, there will be small numbers (of counties) not immediately issuing the licenses and they will be the battlegrounds," Weir said.
All but a few of the state's 58 counties offer to provide marriage ceremonies along with licenses. Contrary to the claim from Kern County that the ceremonies are a drain on resources, Weir said they make money for county coffers. Weir also serves as clerk in Contra Costa County.

"It is a financial plus," said Weir, whose office makes $72,000 a year solemnizing marriages at $60 a pop. "It's something you can do fairly easily, pays its own way and is a service you are providing to your customer."

Meanwhile, at least one same-sex couple has signed up to get married in Kern County.

Whitney Weddell said the staff at the Kern County clerk's office were friendly and helpful as she made the first appointment on Friday morning to get a same-sex marriage license on June 17.
"I kind of see the county clerk as a minor distraction. The Supreme Court ruled, and it's the law and it's a matter of her getting out of the way, which she did this morning," Weddell said.
Associated Press Writer Lisa Leff contributed to this report.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

State high court refuses to put same-sex ruling on hold

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Click here for the on-line San Francisco Chronicle article

(06-04) 12:42 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court refused today to put its ruling allowing same-sex marriages on hold until the issue goes before state voters in November, clearing the way for gay and lesbian weddings to begin June 17.

The justices' unanimous vote to deny a stay sought by two conservative organizations will allow thousands of same-sex couples, from California and other states, to marry before the Nov. 4 vote on a state constitutional amendment that would overturn the ruling. If the amendment passes, the court will have to decide whether those marriage are valid.

In a separate vote today, the court denied reconsideration of its 4-3 decision May 15 that struck down the law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. That law was passed by the Legislature in 1977 and reaffirmed by the voters in a 2000 ballot measure.

The vote on the rehearing was also 4-3, with Chief Justice Ronald George, author of last month's ruling, joined by Justices Joyce Kennard, Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Carlos Moreno in reaffirming the decision. Justices Marvin Baxter, Ming Chin and Carol Corrigan, who dissented from the ruling, voted for reconsideration.

The court's action could affect the November vote. In Massachusetts, the only other state to legalize same-sex marriages, opinion polls showed public acceptance of those marriages increasing over time as the previously prohibited unions became more commonplace.

"People will see their friends, neighbors and co-workers engaging in this very cherished ritual, and I believe it will continue to push the California voting public in the direction of assuring that the Constitution does not treat people differently," said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represented same-sex couples who filed suit challenging the marriage law.

Mathew Staver, legal director of Liberty Counsel and lawyer for the Campaign for California Families, who argued in support of the ban on same-sex marriage, said the court's action today "reveals the political agenda of a handful of judges."

"I don't believe at the end of the day the people will allow four judges to rewrite marriage," Staver said. "If any same-sex marriage licenses are issued before November, the passage of the constitutional amendment will make them invalid and invisible."

Some legal analysts have maintained, however, that couples who marry in reliance on the court's decision will obtain rights that the voters cannot revoke.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who represented the city in a separate suit challenging the marriage law, said the request to suspend the ruling until November was an attempt to "politicize our judiciary." It would have been unprecedented, he added, to "postpone constitutional rights based on speculation" of the outcome of a future election.

In requesting a stay, the Campaign for California Families and the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund argued that the prospect of same-sex marriages between June and November would cause legal complications and confusion that the court could avoid by suspending its decision until the election.

They were joined by the attorneys general of 12 states, all Republicans, who said a stay might spare them from litigation over the status of marriages involving residents of their states who wed in California and returned home.

However, state Attorney General Jerry Brown's office, which defended California's marriage law before the Supreme Court, had urged the justices to allow their ruling to become law as scheduled.

The case is titled In re Marriage Cases, S147999.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mill Valley Church to Perform Same-Sex Weddings

Mill Valley, CA, June 3, 2008 – The Community Church of Mill Valley welcomes LGBT couples wishing to have a church wedding. In the wake of the California Supreme Court’s In re Marriage ruling the congregation enthusiastically affirmed that same sex church weddings may be performed after the official state opening date of June 17.

The Community Church of Mill Valley is a member of the United Church of Christ. The UCC General Synod has voted to support same-sex marriage, and filed an amicus brief in the In re Marriage case. The Northern California/Nevada Conference UCC voted to affirm the California Supreme Court ruling at its Annual Meeting within a day of the decision. The Community Church is an Open and Affirming UCC church that welcomes all people regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

Couples should contact the church office at 415-388-5540 or

ABOUT the Community Church of Mill Valley – The Church is a member of the United Church of Christ, a progressive denomination that respects freedom of individual conscience, with no “tests of faith” for our 1.4 million members. Our own Community Church is an open, diverse, welcoming community of friends that has been in Mill Valley since 1930.

Buzz up! Initiative to ban gay marriage is on ballot

John Wildermuth, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Click here for the on-line San Francisco Chronicle article

(06-02) 19:24 PDT Sacramento --- A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in California was placed on the Nov. 4 ballot Monday, kick-starting an election struggle that will have repercussions across the nation.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen's certification of the initiative, which would amend the state Constitution to limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman, comes as no surprise to either side of the same-sex marriage issue.

When backers of the initiative, who needed 694,354 valid signatures to make the ballot, turned in more than 1.1 million signatures, the only question was when the certification would come.

"We're not surprised by this at all and have been getting ready to run a very aggressive campaign," said Steve Smith, a senior campaign consultant to the Equality for All effort, which will try to defeat the initiative. "This (initiative) asks California voters to take away a fundamental right from same-sex couples, and we don't believe they are willing to do that."

Signatures for the proposed amendment were filed with county clerks across the state in late April, weeks before the state Supreme Court overturned Proposition 22, a ballot measure that also banned same-sex marriage and passed with 61 percent of the vote in 2000. If the new amendment is passed, it will overturn the state court's ruling.

Opponents of same-sex marriage already are arguing that the court should not have overturned the vote of the people on same-sex marriage and have said they are confident that their fall campaign will draw support not only from voters in California but from citizens across the nation.

California officials plan to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning June 17.

Opponents of the court's 4-3 decision have called on the court to delay that action until after the November election, but no decision on that request has been made.

A Field Poll released last week showed that for the first time in 30 years of polling on the gay marriage question, a majority of Californians now supports same-sex marriage and a more voters are unwilling to overturn the state Supreme Court decision.

The same-sex marriage ban was one of four measures approved for the ballot Monday, along with two dealing with criminal justice matters and a third setting new rules for renewable energy. That brings the number of measures on the November ballot to eight, with three others awaiting certification.

Monday, June 2, 2008

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage

Robyn Tyler
Monday June 2, 2008
Click here for the on-line Huffington Post article

I wish I had said that. How poetic! Was it Walt Whitman? No. Was it a greeting card? No. Was it my mother? I can't remember. Then who said it?

It was Macy's! Yes, Macy's department store, where I worked as Santa's little helper the good fairy -- I swear that's what I was called -- when I moved to New York in 1962.

Last week, Macy's took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times that said: "And now it's a milestone every couple in California can celebrate. Let Macy's Wedding Gift & Registry help you start a new life together."

How lovely. My partner, Diane Olson, and I have been together for 15 years, so we don't need a toaster (although my friend Alison Arngrim and her husband, Bob, sent us a pink one, our first wedding gift). We have two sets of silverware and all the plates we will ever need -- unless there's is another earthquake. (We live in one block from Northridge, home of the great quake of 1994.)

So what do we want for our wedding?

We want the conservative Republican governors of other states to mind their own business! On May 29, the attorneys general of the states of Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah filed a brief requesting modification of the California Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples from other states to come to California to get married. These Governors want the marriages to be put off until after the November elections, when California voters will (if the measure qualifies) vote on a measure that would ban same-sex marriage.

What about the Republican mantra "states rights"? What about the fact that three of the four California Supreme Court judges who ruled in our favor were appointed by Republican governors?

California's attorney general, Jerry Brown, says that same-sex marriages should not be delayed, and our Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is against the proposed constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to one man and one woman.

As a matter of fact, a majority of Californians (51 per cent) now supports same-sex marriage!

Only 42 per cent disapprove. But 62 per cent of born-again Christians in California oppose permitting gay and lesbian couples to marry. I don't mind these 62 per cent being born again, but why did they have to come back as themselves?

Sixty-nine per cent of Republicans in California disapprove, while Democrats approve allowing same sex couples to marry by a margin of 2-1 (65 percent-29 percent).

Governors, are you worried that lesbians and gay men are going to stampede into California to get married and then try to force your states to recognize them as equal citizens?

In a letter to California Chief Justice Ronald George, the attorneys general said that California allowing same-sex marriages could unnecessarily open the door to legal challenges from gay residents of other states who get married in California. Upon returning to their home states, the newlyweds could demand equality in everything from tax-filing status to testimonial privileges in civil suits. What a disaster that would be! Equality in other states!

Of course, according to the Human Rights Campaign, 44 states have either a law or a constitutional amendment (or both) barring same-sex marriage, most of which explicitly deny acknowledgment of other states' same-sex ceremonies.

And supporters of same-sex marriages say they are not pushing for gay couples to come to California in droves or asking out-of -state newlyweds to attempt to challenge state laws when they get home. (Of course, several gay attorneys asked Diane and I not to sue in California for the right to marry, on the grounds that our fight might fail (which it did not) or trigger a constitutional amendment (which it did, but the odds are now on our side that it will not pass).

Where I absolutely agree with these attorneys is that we should not undertake a federal lawsuit.

It took 19 years for inter-racial marriage to be approved by the U.S. Supreme Court after the California Supreme Court struck down the ban on it in 1948. So I agree that, especially with the present federal Supreme Court, now is not the time to push the issue federally.

To be honest, I do have lesbian friends who are planning to come to California to be married.

Cathy and Phyllis, who live in Flagstaff, Arizona, want to join two New York couples -- Jan and Edrie from Cherry Grove and Ann and Carlotta of the Pines -- as well as Marilyn and Sandi, who live in Los Osos, California, and Jean and Marilyn from Los Angeles. They are working on having a beautiful wedding on the beach. I'm not going to tell Cathy and Phyllis: "You can't come to California to get married because it will drive your Republican governor crazy."

I don't think they're thinking about their governor right now. They're probably thinking about a caterer and about exactly what they need to do to get married in California.

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love of Dallas, Texas, and her partner of 28 years, Sue Jennings, are coming to California to get married on June 24. Rev Love is the Executive Director of Metropolitan Community Churches, the first and largest church organization with a primary outreach to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in the world! Cindi and Sue have two grown children, Joshua and Hanna Love.

Metropolitan Community Churches has performed so many "marriages" that I bet Cindy and Sue know what to do. However, it's a puzzle for those of us who have never been married.
Diane and I don't even know how much it will cost. We have gone to the Beverly Hills Courthouse to get married during Valentine's Day week every year since 2001. But because we knew we would be turned down, we didn't even bring a check or what we thought night be enough cash.

Luckily for us, Marriage Equality USA, an organization that has supported and fought for same-sex marriage for a long time, has put out a terrific online recourse called the "We're Getting Married Tool Kit." It provides information on how to announce wedding plans in local papers, a list of county clerks' offices in California, and a lot of other helpful advice. The website for this wonderful information is here. Click on "Download your Getting Married Tool Kit here" and you get a beginners' manual for marriage.

I need to warn you in advance that it doesn't suggest what to wear. Macy's might have some suggestions, but there will be many in our community who will not want traditional wedding gowns and tuxedos. Diane and I both feel we are way beyond wearing "virginal white," so we're planning to wear matching tan suits. We're hoping to get married on M Day (Marriage Day), Tuesday, June 17, which is now set as the first day same-sex marriages will be possible in California. Our plans are to exchange vows at 9 a.m. in front of the Beverly Hills Courthouse in a ceremony officiated by Rabbi Denise Eger, who wants to meet with us. (I don't think she is going to ask if we are truly committed.) Of course, everyone who supports us is invited!

Please, bigots, give us this one day. I remember when you used to yell "Homosexuality is a disease" at us. To which I replied: "If homosexuality is a disease, we should all call in sick to work! 'Hi, can't work, still queer.'" But those days are long gone. Most people no longer consider us "sick." In most states, we are just considered "less then deserving."

So, here's what I say to lesbian and gay couples everywhere: If you want to get married, don't let anyone stop you. California is a great place to be gay, and if you want to move here, our property prices have dropped drastically. Besides, people are predicting it is going to add hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy.

And for those of you in our community, or friends of our community, who do not want to come here to get married, or to ever get married, please give us this present: Find out the telephone numbers of the Republican governors of the 10 states that filed to have our marriages stopped, pass their phone numbers to everyone you know and encourage them to call the governors' offices and say: "Stop trying to delay when same-sex couples can begin to be married in California. Just mind your own business. Use what little time we hope you have left in office, governor, to control inflation, the loss of jobs, homes and the skyrocketing prices of gas, food, and health insurance in your state and other really important problems. Love is not the problem, love is the solution."

Yes, first comes love, then comes marriage. And if you can't believe Macy's department store, whom can you believe?