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Archive for June, 2008

Same-sex matrimony in Martinez: Part 2

10:10 a.m.: I go back to the Clerk Recorder’s building after my little coffee and blog break at Starbucks. Things have calmed down. The barricades are gone. The police officers have dispersed. All but two TV news vans have vacated the premises.

There’s a new crowd of supporters in front of the building. They are more colorful – literally and figuratively. They don rainbow feather boas and also have signs that support same-sex marriage. There are even toddlers running about chasing stray feathers that have detached from the boas.

10:13 a.m.: The small group applauds as another same-sex couple walk out of the building in suits.

10:17 a.m.: A man and woman walk out of the building with their marriage license and the small crowd gives them a hearty congratulations.

10:22 a.m.: The same-sex marriage hype has died down a bit. The crowd converses about where they are going to go for lunch.

10:34 a.m.: Another pair of gay males walk out of the building, both in suits and with smiles on their faces. The group of supporters applaud and give them congratulatory greetings. One of the toddler girls gives each man a rose. The two men smile and say thank you. Everyone is all a twitter.

Posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
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Second day, more same-sex couples apply for marriage licenses at Alameda County clerk’s office

Staff Writer Paul David Lampe is at the Alameda County Clerk’s office in downtown Oakland, following the activity during the second day same-sex marriage licenses are issued and wedding ceremonies are performed.

Noon. A couple and their witness

Vance Jason and Garry Leveque have been together for eight years and Clay Beale has been Leveque’s friend for 34 years.

Leveque was raised Catholic and attended Brigham Young. In high school Leveque had two mentors, Clay Beale, his art teacher, and Barbara Abbott, his English teacher. Today Leveque is an art teacher and Beale served as a witness for Leveque and Jason’s marriage license and marriage.

Although the couple only planned on receiving their marriage license today, they decided to get married when they heard that the line wasn’t too long.

The couple said that today was a formality, because they had a committment ceremony five years ago.

The couple was registered as domestic partners, but decided to receive their marriage license today to receive full benefits recognized by the state of California.

“Since there are no residency requirements, other states might be required to recognize our relationship,” Jason said.

The couple said that they were very proud of the decision the California Supreme Court made in May.

“It is so hard to tell what is going to happen in the current climate in this country,” Jason said. “It was kind of a combination of shock and excitement.

11:05 a.m. 20 years of pride and commitment.

Johnathan Abernethy-Deppe and David Abernethy-Deppe have been together for 20 years, have been registered as domestic partners since 2000, have shared a last name for almost 4 years, and on June 17 applied for their marriage license.

Jonathan said four years ago when the couple changed their last names the judge announced to the court that she was looking forward to the day when marriage ceremonies would become legal for same-sex couples.

“Separate is not equal,” David said. “Which we learned many years ago in the civil rights movement.”

The couple plans to get married on June 29, the same day as San Francisco Pride.

“Pride day for gay and lesbian people is like our family celebration,” David said.

The couple plans to have a “low key” wedding celebration.

“We’re hoping it will be low key and it doesn’t get out of hand,” David jest.

10:30 a.m. Friends and family gather in celebration

Monica Giudici didn’t expect to see director of her daughter’s school picking up a marriage license this morning. Giudici came into the Alameda County clerk’s office to pick up a birth certificate for her daughter. As she was waiting to hear her name called she saw Ilana Kaufman with friends, her daughter, and her soon-to-be wife Gretchen Kaufman.

“I feel really lucky that I was able to witness that by chance,” Giudici said.

Ilana Kaufman said she was proud to be a resident of Alameda county and Oakland where marriage licenses were handed out starting at 5:01 Monday June 16.

“It’s like a formal public validation of our relationship,” Ilana Kaufman said. She even considered coming to the county clerks office last night to clap and cheer for couples who had recieved their marriage license.

The Kaufmans were joined by Elisabeth Jay and her fiancee Kathryn.

The couple was picking up a marriage license, but doesn’t plan to get married until July.

Another couple who came to help the Kaufman’s celebrate today has been married for the past four years. Richard Knight and Josh Gamson were married in Massachusetts in 2004.

“All of a sudden we went from single to married in thiss state,” Gamson said. “We have been married for four years, but the state has finally caught up with our relationship. It’s all about the state coming into line with what our family actually is.”

The couple is celebrating the courts decision by legally changing their last names.

“It’s a funny experience to have a bureaucratic moment be an emotional moment,” Gamson said.

Before the friends and family went in to see the Kaufman’s wedding they jest, but quite earnestly, that it would also be nice to have congress and the federal government recognize their marriage.

9:55 a.m. No protestors in sight. Families celebrating with friends

Already 17 couples have applied for marriage licenses. City clerk employee’s desks are decorated with white balloons. Couples that have shared a lifetime now have the opportunity for civil rights.

For Beatrice Perez-Stable and Alectro Caldwell this morning is an opportunity to not only make a political statement but also solidify their commitment to eachother after 31 years.

“We’ll after 31 years of waking up together we deserve to come and claim our civil rights,” Perez-Stable said.

The couple meet originally in Laguna Beach. Caldwell grew up in Alabama but has been in California for approxomately 50 years.

Posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
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Same-sex matrimony in Martinez

This is Dino-Ray Ramos, fashion writer from Dressed, and I’m reporting from a Starbucks in Martinez! Here’s the scoop on what went down with same-sex marriages this morning in Martinez….

6:55 a.m.: Drove into the city of Martinez. I’ve never been here before and it reminded me of that city in “Footloose.”

7:21 a.m.: After getting a tad bit lost, I find parking and walk over to the Clerk Recorder’s Office in quaint downtown Martinez. There are approximately 50 supporters out in front with rainbow paraphernalia and holding signs of support. They vary with words like “I’m straight, but not narrow” and one tongue-in-cheek one that says “Fred Phelps Marry Me.”

In opposition to them are three protesters, one middle-aged woman and two female teens, sealed off in a barricaded area with signs that say “Dykes Wed,” “Fags Can’t Marry” and “God Hates Fag Enablers.” One of the teen girls stands on a rainbow flag

I meet with my colleague, Matthias and he informs me that both parties got there at about 7 a.m.

7:22 a.m. : I notice two residents in the housing complex across the street sitting on their stoop staring at the action as the supporters sing “Give Peace a Chance.”

7:24 a.m.: A guy jokingly holds up a sign that says, “Ignorance, is that a sin?” with an arrow pointing towards the protesters. It might have said “ignorant,” I’m not too sure. The protesters ignore.

7:26 a.m.: The head protester, with an American flag wrapped around her waist as some sort of sarang, sings a song called “Going to the Chapel of Crap.”

7:28 a.m.: The protester’s voice seems exhausted. She needs a lozenge.

7:32 a.m.: A person drives by and honks his horn, giving a gesture of support. The supporters applause with recognition.

7:33 a.m.: The head protester starts to sing “Chapel of Crap” again. A guy drives by and says some harsh words directed at her. He gives her the finger – the middle one.

7:35 a.m.: Paranoia of a drive-by sets in.

7:39 a.m.: An Aramark truck honks it’s horn with glee as it drives by.

7:51 a.m.: I realize the line for marriage licenses isn’t that long. There a lot more supporters.

7:55 a.m.: There seems to be a bit of down time. People are just standing around and doing their thing. That said, I decide to count the cops standing across the street. There are 8 of them – and that’s just across the street. They are there to serve and protect.

7:56 a.m.: Protesters sing an encore of “Chapel of Crap.” Supporters retaliate with a rendition of “Chapel of Love.”

7:58 a.m.: Protesters leave. The supporters applaud. The line for licenses grows by three couples.

8 a.m.: The doors of the building open. The couples file in.

8:04 a.m.: I meet Diane Miller and Barbara & Bill Hamilton-Holway. All three are Unitarian ministers. They are excited for the day’s events. Miller is from Walnut Creek while the Hamilton-Holways have a church in Martinez. The latter have been doing ceremonies for a while now and they say this occasion is a great joy and it’s been a long time coming.

Barbara Hamilton-Holway says that it will be great to say, “By the power invested in me by the state of California” when performing her same-sex marriage ceremonies.

8:18 a.m.: Stephen Weir, donning a traditional kilt, walks out of the building with his partner John Hemm, who is donned in a white tux jacket with black slacks. The couple du jour just got their license and did their oaths.

The small crowd adjourns to the park across the street.

8:23 a.m.: As I walk across the street to the park where the Weir ceremony will take place, my colleague Matthias tells me what went down behind the scenes. He tells me that the second couple to get a license is Stan Deller and David Weir (no relation to Stephen.) The sound of bagpipes subside my fear of a drive by.

8:25 a.m.: The bagpipes stop. A crowd of people await the big ceremony in the park.

8:30 a.m.: The bagpipes start up again and the ceremony starts. The Weir procession begins and the crowd erupts with applause. As Weir walks across the park bridge to the little ceremonial gazebo, he greets guests, both invited and not. Hemm is not too far behind him. The wedding party is draped in pretty leis of purple.

8:37 a.m.: Stephen and John are pronounced “spouses for life.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
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Historic Same-sex weddings begin in Alameda County

Staff Writer Angela Hill is at the Alameda County clerk’s office in downtown Oakland, following the activity as the first same-sex marriage licenses are issued and wedding ceremonies are performed.

6:20 p.m. Protester Gone

The lone protester outside the clerk’s office is gone, replaced by an enthusiastic family with a sign that reads, “Long Live Love.” They cheer every couple who emerges from the building.”Congratulations!”

“We’re justs here to cheer everyone on,” they said.

6:06 p.m. Joy

Cheers and applause erupt from various conference rooms where other weddings are being performed. One couple is asked how they feel now that it’s over. “Legal!” one woman said.

Down in the lobby, more couples are still waiting to be called for licenses. Karen Boyd and Samee Roberts, who both work for the CIty of Oakland, were holding number 380. “They’re still on 378,” Boyd said. ” So we’re close.”

The two met nine years ago, and got to know each other during the public dedication of Frank Ogawa Plaza. They had a spiritual commitment ceremony in 2003. Then signed up for a domestic partnership. Then got a license in San Francisco in 2004, which was revoked. “We decided we’d keep doing this until it sticks,” Boyd said.

5:45 p.m. Oops!

A mistake on the first license! Boadwee forgot to put his mother’s maiden name. Appel had someone working on the correction, and was seeking out the witnesses to sign the license again. “Of course there’s a mistake on the first one,” Appel said.

5:25 p.m. The First Marriage is Performed

It’s Kenneth Latham and Keith Boadwee. A cluster of TV cameras escorted them into the wedding room on the second floor of the clerk’s building. Janet Appel, deputy marriage commissioner,

asked them if they had their own vows or wanted t

raditional. They opted for traditional.

Appel steered the couple over in front of a decorative screen, surrounded by white and silver balloons. Latham and Boadwee held hands and looked in each other’s eyes. Both looked flushed. Latham had tears sin his eyes.

Couple marries at Alameda County Clerk's Office

“We are gathered here today for the purpose of uniting Kevin and Keith,” Appel said. “You’ll be partners, standing together to cushion the difficulties of life. No other human ties are more tender.

“Do you, Kenneth, take Keith to be your lawful wedded spouse?”

He responded with an eager, “I do!”

Then same for Boadwee, and Appel had them repeat their vows.

“I promise to love and comfort you in sisckness and in health,” Broadwee said.

“For richer, for poorer. For better and for worse. And forsaking all others, be faithful to you as long as I live.”

Their friend Tom brought forth the rings. Boadwee’s was a little tight. “Twist and turn it,” he instructed a flustered Kenneth. “Mine only fits on my pinkie,” he joked.

Then Appel announced the historic words, “By virtue of the authority vested in my by the State of California, and Alameda County, I now pronounce you a married couple.”

Hoots and cheers rose up from their witnessess and friends as they kisses. News cameras flashed. “I need a drink!” Boadwee said.

5:01 p.m. Licenses are Issued

“If you have an appointment, it’s not necessary to get a number,” the county’s Chief Clerk-Recorder Kevin Hing announced to a hushed crowd. “If you don’t, we’ll try to accommodate you as bests we can.”

The doors to the clerk’s office opened, names were called of those who made reservations, and people went to the designated counters. Couples will then be instructed to go upstairs to the wedding rooms.

4:55 p.m. Lobby Brimming with Couples

It’s a festive atmosphere, full of anticipation. About 100 people crowd the lobby, couples, friends, witnesses, kids. Huda and Deanna Jadallah-Karraa (using thier hyphenated soon-to-be-married name) were fussing with a bouquet of bright flowers, splitting them up among their three children. Little Hind, 7, is in a pretty red-satin dress. Twins Omar and Hady, both 10, (except Omar is one-minute older) resemble the “Men in Black,” looking sharp in their crisp suits and ties.

Deanna and Huda have been together for 17 years, and that’s why Omar feels they should definitely get hitched. “Because they’ve been together a really long time,” he said.

People snapped photos. TV cameras roamed the lobby.

4:45 p.m. Protesters Start to Arrive

One man is standing in front of the county clerk’s building with a large “Gay = Pervert” sign. A same-sex couple entering the building said, “Shame on you,” to him, and he replied with the same line.

4:30 p.m. Couples Start to Arrive

Even though the clerkk’s offices will close at 4:30 p.m. and reopen at 5, same-sex couples are already crowding the lobby — some who plan to get their licenses here and then rush over to City Hall to have Mayor Dellums marry them, some who plan to have the civil ceremony here in the wedding rooms and overflow conference rooms at the clerk’s office, and even other who are just picking up their licensess for private ceremonies to be held in the next few weeks.

Dignan Banes and Will Jennings of Oakland are waiting in the lobby, dressed in matching black suits, red shirts and rainbow-striped ties. They plan to race over to City Hall after getting their official licenses.

“It was really important to us to get married here in our own county,” Banes said. “It really shows the range of ages, races and the full spectrum of Alameda County’s diversity.”

Banes and Jennings have been together for six years. “But we’ve been waiting for this forever,” Jennings said. “Sixty-three years for me and 37 for him. So collectively 100 years.”

Keith Boadwee, 46, and Kenny Latham, 47, are sitting on a bench in the lobby. Broadwee is in a plaid blazer with a bold striped tie, and Latham in a pale-blue jacket. Bright pink carnations on their lapels signal their affilliation. “Oh no! My button’s come off!” Boadwee exclaimed. “Maybe we can find a safety pin,” Latham offered. The disaster did not taint their joy, however.

“This is so exciting,” Boadwee sasid. “It’s all about civil rights. I feel like there’s a shift going on in society and culture. SO many youner people are getting involved in suspporting this kind of effort. It’s an exciting time.”

4: 15 p.m. Preparations are in place

Chief Clerk-Recorder for Alameda County Kevin Hing likened today’s crush of ceremonies to a typical Valentine’s Day. Ususally on a V-Day, the clerk’s office sees a good 75 to 80 licenses and weddings. And as on a V-Day, workers in the clerk’s office have set up a little “reception” area with paper plates on a table with a silver cloth in the hallway outside the wedding rooms. They have little cupcakes and brownies ready to go for the couples after they wed.

4 p.m. Competition

There seems to be a little competition going on as to who will be performing the first same-sex ceremony in Alameda County. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums announced at an earlier press conference that he’ll be performing the “first” ceremony at 6 p.m. at City Hall. But Kevin Hing at the clerk’s office said his office will begin issuing licenses at 5:01 p.m. and performing the “first” ceremony at about 5:15 p.m.

“The city of Oakland is doing a whole separate thing,” he said.

3:30 p.m. – The Media Frenzy Begins

Even before the couples began to arrive, satellite trucks from various media outlets queued up along the curb outside the county clerk’s office building on Madison and 11th Street in downtown Oakland. TV cameras were poised in the second-floor “wedding room” of the clerk’s office.

Kevin Hing, chief clerk of the recorder’s office, breaking free from an interview with one reporter, graciously turned to another. “We’re trying to make sure everyone is served properly today,” he said.

Hing said, because the county only took appointments for ceremonies, he has no idea how many couples will arrive tonight to apply for licenses. “Calls have been coming in every five minutes since this morning,” he said.

Twenty-two ceremonies are scheduled for this evening, beginning after 5 p.m. Hing also expects numerous walk-ins all evening. The office will be open late until 8 p.m.

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008
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