Karen Ocamb

Coming to LA to Marry? Here's What You Need to Know

Filed By Karen Ocamb | May 21, 2008 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Equality for All, L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, LGBT politics, Lorri Jean, Los Angeles County, same-sex marriage

First of all - congratulations. If you've read the marriage ruling, issued by the California Supreme Court on May 15, you know our love and our humanity is now officially a constitutionally protected family value.

Yesterday the L.A. County Clerk said he is preparing for an influx of application requests. And since there is no residency requirement to marry in California --- come on down....

Here's some useful information to help you prepare for your trip:

Barring an unanticipated stay of the court's order, gender-neutral marriage licenses will start to be issued on June 16. You can go to the Registrar's website to apply for a license.

Additionally, Acting Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk Dean Logan told me that anyone - a family member or friend - can be deputized for a day to officiate at civil marriage ceremonies - after an hour of special training and taking an oath. He said they do the trainings once a week, so you can gear your training around the date of the wedding(s) you want to perform. That information is also available on the website.

The site also has a list of satellite offices and facilities for the ceremonies - most of which are conducted by a cadre of "upbeat" volunteers. They are looking for more volunteers and expect to expand their facilities to other sites - for instance, the city of West Hollywood wants to be a designated site, and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is considering a celebration at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, and Center CEO Lorri Jean is considering getting deputized for a day.

Logan told me that his office will hold meetings - convened by L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky - with an informal group of LGBT advisors to make sure that the ceremonies are conducted with respect, dignity and cultural sensitivity.

Finally - as you may know by now, Focus on the Family and other antigay right wing groups spent a lot of money paying signature gatherers to get an antigay marriage constitutional amendment proposed by Protect Marriage on the November ballot. They collected 1.1 million signatures, which Logan says are now being verified - but the threshold is expected to be reached within the next few weeks.

There is a statewide LGBT coalition campaign to defeat the amendment - coordinated by Equality for All. But since the campaign is expected to cost between $15-20 million dollars - a number of couples who pledged to marry have suggested donating money to Equality for All in lieu of gifts or wedding presents.

There is much legal debate over what would happen if the amendment passes since it would trump the Supreme Court's ruling. But right now, most think it would not be retroactive - invalidating the marriages that take place between June 16 and the day the measure would take effect.

So come to L.A. and join the rest of us LGBTers giddy with equality.

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How about the Bay Area, ie. San Francisco?

But the big question is: Can we stay at your place?! *grins*


I know that SF is accepting appointments for same-sex marriages already. My partner and I already signed up. I'll try and pass on more info as I get it.

Thanks for spreading the word on this background info, Karen!

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond...I'm working on a 5,000 (!) word piece on our historic marriage equality decision, plus presidential and local June 3 politics...etc - for this massive PRIDE issue.

Anyway - you just know SF is gearing up - and they've had practice...But I suggest you keep checking in with the Bay Area Reporter - http://ebar.com/ - the very good weekly up there...

As for staying here...like dogs and hot weather in WeHo???? Hey - reminds me of the old days on a commune....

And congrats, Waymon!

I have to laugh because my straight son is getting married in October in the San Diego area, and they have been planning it for over a year. Now, I could get married in the same state as him and not put all of that effort into it. Olivia, his sweetheart, wants a traditional wedding.

So would I, of sorts. Both of us would wear wedding dresses. I hope the ability for my girlfriend and I to get married in CA is still around if our relationship ever reaches that point. We are not even close to having that happen. One day at a time. But, the idea of wearing a wedding dress at my wedding has always been a fantasy of mine. (sigh)

Thanks for reporting this helpful info, Karen. It just so happens that my sweetie and I will be in Southern California on June 16 for the last leg of The American Family Outing. Plans are brewing!

That's really helpful info, Karen. Does this mean it's going to be even harder to find a table at The Abbey?

Sorry... confused... last paragraph --> most think it would *not* be retroactive?

If the Nov election is *not* retroactive then doesn't that mean those marriages between June 16th and ?(amendment going into law) would remain valid? or do I misunderstand?

This is a big difference to me. We've decided to wait until after Nov to get married but if there's a window during which we could get married and know (or at least be somewhat sure) that the marriage would not be invalidated, we'd go during that window.

Have any suggestions as to how to find out?

Hi Marsah -

It's my understanding that if the court doesn't grant an injunction (which they are not likely to do) - lesbian and gay marriages become legal in California starting June 16. That includes couples who come from out of state - and indeed, Gov. Arnold is hoping for a financial boon to help offset our fiscal crisis.

IF the antigay marriage constitutional amendment passes in November, the measure supersedes and overturns the constitutional basis upon which the justices made their ruling. BUT - most legal folks with whom I've spoken thus far say it does NOT invalidate the marriages that occurred during the period when the ruling was in place.

The L.A. County Counsel is assessing that for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, but his initial reaction when asked this question by one of the supervisors was that the initiative was not retroactive. When he files that report - I'll write about it. But right now Lambda Legal's Jon Davidson and others believe those marriages will stand.

So come to California....

Marsha -

Let me add a caveat to my previous post....No one knows - really - what will happen if the constitutional amendment passes - it is too blanket a statement to say it would not retroactively effect marriages between June 16 and then.

The antigay forces are actually using the "confusion" of not knowing that legal outcome as a reason for the high court to stay their ruling, which is not expected to happen.

But - most of the folks with whom I've spoken do not believe the marriages would be nullified for reasons I noted.

And couples with whom I've spoke here are also excited about getting married - even if it does turn out to be for only a few months....

Sorry to add to your dilemma.