Thanks Mabel Teng!
I cannot begin to tell you what a strange day Thursday was. I slept in late, and had my favorite lunch at Ti Cous, a savory crepe with mushrooms, tomato and cheese. Patrick called shortly after lunch as I was grabbing a cup of decaf from the starbucks in the Castro. I drove about town while chatting with Patrick about what was happening down at city hall.
I didn’t even understand the legal/procedural process for getting married, and Patrick had to explain the research he had done. As we understood it, you went to the county clerk’s office to apply for a marriage license. This was done on a first-come, first-serve basis, and took about 45 minutes. Once you had the license, there was another department that would perform the marriages. You could schedule a marriage appointment after you had your license.
It was our original intent to go down to City Hall on Friday morning and get a license, with the hope that we could perhaps get an appointment to be married as well. We hung up, I called Brian to check his Friday schedule, and we all agreed to go Friday.
Patrick called back and explained how the courts were closed on Thursday, and they were going to go down today. I said that we would too. I was secretly nervous about this whole thing, afraid that we would be turned away or rejected at the last minute. So I wouldn’t lose my nerve, I thought it was good to go with someone else.
I met Brian at Embarcadero one, and we drove over to city hall and parked undergroud. We met Patrick, Chuck and Nathan outside, and headed in. I can remember trying to look all “casual” as we passed through security, hoping we wouldn’t tip them off that we were here to apply for a marriage license. Why else would 2 gay couples (one with a baby) show up at city hall suddenly?
(more below next photo)
Mabel Teng marries us on February 12!
When we arrived at city hall, it was about 1:30 on Thursday afternoon. Patrick and Chuck went to the information desk to find room 168, the county clerk’s office. Not wanting to tip off anyone to our covert mission, I headed to the map of the building. No way was I going to talk to anyone.
We walked down to room 168, and as we passed the Rotunda we saw Mark Leno standing around, and heard that they were marrying people in the Rotunda. I got really excited and nervous. As we approached 168 from the hallway, we saw a bunch of other gay couples.
We got the marriage license application and promptly filled it out. They handed us back our number, which was number 95. They were currently serving number 71. The sign on the door said they would stop processing at 4pm. I did the math in my head, and was very concerned that we might not be processed today.
The rumor going around the waiting area was that a printer malfunction had slowed down the printing of the new certificates, and things were being done manually.
It was a great crowd of people. As each couple finished and walked out, the crowd would spontaneously burst into applause. Hoots of congratulations and smiles all around. The people around us were so diverse. Gay couples and lesbian couples. Old and young. All ethnicities. Lots with children.
I remember feeling like it couldn’t last. That at any minute, the big bad guy was going to walk back in the room, close the doors and tell us all to go home. That it was some big misunderstanding. A joke. But the numbers gradually ticked by. And it was like living in a fairy tale.
It was obvious that by 2:30 things were speeding up, and I was fairly confident our number would be called by 3:30 or so at the latest. While we were waiting, reporters mingled with everyone. Reporters were jotting down wonderful stories from all sorts of couples. It was just this wonderful amazing energy.
Most people arriving didn’t understand the process, either. So those with numbers would patiently explain to newcomers the process. Where to get the paperwork, where to get the number, what department to go to next, etc. It was awesome. We discovered that after we had our license, they were performing the civil cermonies in the rotunda, and that afterwards you could get your certified copy from the assessor-recorder’s office. It was unbelievable.
Matt, Brian, Mabel Teng, Chuck, Nathan, & Patrick, Married!
The deputy clerk who processed our license was definitely super-gay! And he had a big happy grin. It was awesome to see how excited all the staff and employees were. You usually don’t see government clerks excited about their work, but they certainly were today. It was awesome.
Brian and I filled out the application wrong, putting in our mother’s married names, not their maiden names. We had to correct that, pay our $82, and show our driver’s licenses. It was amazing. I was so giddy. Now that we had been processed, you would think I would calm down.
But no. I was now paranoid that we wouldn’t have time for a civil ceremony. I was so anxious. So we went to the assessor-recorder’s office to find out what to do next. They explained we needed to have the ceremony. We headed out to the Rotunda, and watched for a few minutes as Mark Leno and Mable Teng married people. Reporters were filming, and journalists were asking all the couples lots of questions.
At the end of each person’s ceremony, the hustle and bustle and buzz of city hall would be replaced with the echo of clapping and cheering. Journalists would volunteer as witnesses, and it was just awesome.
We were witnesses as Mable Teng married our friends Patrick and Chuck. Then, they were our witnesses as Mable Teng married us. She was just the sweetest person in the world. Very nice, sweet, excited for us, and you could tell she was having a wonderful time.
As we walked out, we saw Gavin Newsom with his staff. Brian walked up and shook his hand, and said “Thank You” for his courage. It was awesome. I was in shock, but still could remember to call my mom and dad and give them the great news.