Just hours after it was announced that California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was lifting its stay on the 2010 ruling overturning Proposition 8, County Clerk-Recorder Gina Alcomendras directed her office to issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
The announcement came shortly before the clerk-recorder's office closed on Friday, June 28, and according to a county media representative, no same-sex couples showed up that day. When the office re-opened Monday morning, July 1, somewhere between 10 to 15 same-sex couples were lined up and ready to request a marriage license — and in some cases be married right then and there.
Gwendolyn Mitchell, director of public affairs for Santa Clara County, said the couples began lining up before 8 a.m. outside the clerk-recorder's office, located in the San Jose Civic Center complex. Mitchell said the office had seen a steady stream of same-sex couples all day, and had taken measures to ensure things moved smoothly.
Some of the couples who showed up on July 1 were married by Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager.
Reached by phone Monday shortly after noon, the openly gay Yeager said he had officiated at eight marriages and was optimistic that he would preside over more by the day's end.
Yeager, who oversees Santa Clara County's fourth district, said he had become emotional a few times during the day — especially when he said those fateful words: "I now pronounce you married under the laws of the state of California."
He said he was reminded of the same sex-marriages he officiated at five years ago, when it first became legal in the state. "I hadn't been able to say that in five years," he said. "I feel a great deal of pride for my country, knowing I could utter those words." On the ground floor of 70 W. Heading Street in San Jose — where the clerk-recorder's office is located — signs direct couples to the appropriate area to obtain their marriage licenses and officials are on standby to answer any questions.
For those who are interested, an "express marriage" can be arranged, Mitchell said. Those who granted a marriage license can choose to be married immediately afterward by a county clerk.
Mitchell said the county is ready in case there is a surge in the number of couples interested in obtaining marriage licenses and getting married by county clerks. A majority of the clerks have been deputized to perform marriages. Couples can be married right at one of the office's 27 service windows or, if they choose, in an on-site wedding chapel.
Anyone interested in obtaining a marriage license, getting married by a county clerk, or being deputized to perform civil marriage ceremonies, may call 408-299-5688.