A journey of a thousand miles…

…begins with a single step, Lao-tzu said.

California will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples at 5 p.m. today. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will officiate his city and county’s first legal same-sex wedding (civil rights leaders Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, together for 55 years) at that hour at San Francisco City Hall, while Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums will preside over Alameda County’s first ceremony at 6 p.m. in Oakland City Hall; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and other elected officials will witness the latter.

But lest we forget, Newsom and Dellums endorsed Hillary Clinton for president this year while Lee endorsed Barack Obama, and neither of those Democratic presidential candidates stood in support of same-sex marriage, only civil unions. This may be the dawning of a new day in California — a very happy, blessed day for many — but the national debate rages on.

The step that so many couples will take to the altar in coming weeks isn’t the first step of their thousand-mile journey — this voyage has been underway for decades — but it’s not the finish line, either, and the road ahead remains long and rocky for those on both sides of this issue.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.