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.