SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Demand for same-sex marriage licenses
has been so great that yesterday officials turned away hundreds of
gay and lesbian couples lined up outside City Hall, saying they
simply didn’t have the time or resources to meet all the
San Francisco authorities calculated they could process 400
licenses during special weekend hours — but on Saturday they
granted 600 licenses and performed 270 weddings by late afternoon.
Then officials gave numbers to 320 couples, securing them places in
line for yesterday.
After quickly distributing another 80 numbers yesterday morning,
disappointed couples lined up around the block were asked to return
“We’re at capacity right now,” said Mabel
Teng, the official who oversees marriage licenses for city
government. “We normally do about 20 to 30 couples a day.
We’re doing about 50 to 60 an hour.”
Many couples stayed in line despite instructions from city
officials, hoping to receive numbers today.
“It’s a major disappointment,” said Jill
Kasofsky, 40, who had lined up with spouse-to-be Cynthia Juno, 45,
at 8:15 a.m. after driving up from Los Angeles. “I’m
thinking about coming back at midnight to sleep on the sidewalk.
I’m sure I won’t be alone.”
Couples from even farther away said they were ready to stay in
town for as long as it took.
“Mentally, we came prepared to camp out if we had
to,” said Mike Fry, 43, who flew out Saturday from
Minneapolis with George Hamm, 44, his partner of 20 years.
In a controversial challenge to both legal and social
convention, San Francisco officials began issuing same-sex licenses
and officiating at City Hall marriages on Thursday. The city has
gone out of its way to provide the services — City Hall is
normally closed on Sundays.
The decision prompted two conservative groups to press for court
intervention. But on Friday a judge allowed the weddings to
continue through the weekend.
The issue returns to court tomorrow, when judges will hear
separate requests from advocates of traditional marriage to void
the licenses and order the city to stop giving them out.
The two organizations argue that the licenses violate state law,
which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. San
Francisco officials counter that they are legally binding documents
that take a swipe at discrimination against same-sex couples.