First Gay Couples Marry in San Francisco

More than 2,300 same-sex couples sign up for marriage licenses.

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SAN FRANCISCO—The first full day of same-sex marriages in the state began at 8 a.m. local time today as the first couples walked down the steps of City Hall into the arms of cheering crowds waving rainbow flags. A joyous atmosphere surrounded the building, with couples being serenaded by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus while local radio stations handed out cupcakes. Officials say more than 200 same-sex couples made appointments to be married in San Francisco today.

Gavin Newsom, the city's mayor, officiated over the first legal same-sex wedding ceremony in the state last night when he declared Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, a lesbian couple who have been together more than 50 years, "spouses for life." "And it feels great," said Lyon, 83, afterward.

During the invitation-only ceremony, Lyon wore a blue pantsuit while Martin, 87, in a purple pantsuit, stood up from her wheelchair for their vows. After the women exchanged rings, friends and family—and a few city officials—cheered wildly. Newsom turned to the gathering and said, "Ladies and gentlemen: It is official."

According to the San Francisco county clerk, more than 2,300 same-sex couples have appointments to obtain marriage licenses in the city in the next 90 days. Should voters reject a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would define marriage as between only a man and a women, experts believe as many as 200,000 same-sex couples will be married in the state over the next three years.