Skip to main content

California begins same-sex marriage ceremonies

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 12:51 PM EDT, Sun June 30, 2013
  • Weddings will continue over the weekend
  • The first couple to marry are Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier
  • They were plaintiffs in the lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Ring bearer is Elliot Perry, 18, one of the couple's twin sons

(CNN) -- Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier fought long for the day they could exchange wedding vows with no judicial cloud on the horizon.

That day came Friday, when they stood before California Attorney General Kamala Harris on an interior balcony in the San Francisco City Hall rotunda.

"They have waited, hoped and fought for this moment. Today, their wait is finally over," Harris told observers.

Harris began marrying same-sex couples two days after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for the marriages.

Perry and Stier were plaintiffs in the lawsuit before the nation's highest court.

The lesbian couple has been together since 1997.

Stier held a bouquet of white roses during the ceremony.

Perry wore a pants suit; Stier a dress with heels.

One spectator, a man, wore a rainbow-colored vest with a hat resembling a wedding cake.

The ring bearer was Elliot Perry, 18, one of the couple's twin sons who just graduated from high school and will be attending college.

Harris presided over the exchange of vows, with the couple, spectators and media gathered on the balcony.

Harris: "Do you, Kris, take Sandy to be your lawfully wedded wife...."

Stier: "I do."

Harris: "Do you, Sandy, take Kris to be your lawfully wedded wife...."

Perry: "I do."

Harris: "You may now present the ring."

Perry and Stier exchanged rings and vows.

The attorney general then stated that by the power and authority invested in her by the state of California, "I now declare you spouses for life."

The spouses kissed.

Cheers echoed in the rotunda.

Perry began to cry.

Their son, in a suit, stood between them, posing for the cameras on the balcony. Each newlywed kissed him on a cheek.

Process begins to allow federal benefits for same-sex spouses

"Thank you so much for coming to our wedding," Stier said afterward. "We waited a long time for this day. We fell in love 14 years ago."

Added Perry: "It's a great day in San Francisco, it's a great day in California and it's a great day in the country because Sandy and I are married.

"Other famlies out there in similar circumstances should fight to be married, too," Perry said, referring to other states that don't have same-sex marriage laws. "Sandy and I being married represents the conclusion of a difficult period in California."

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that same-sex marriages could resume in California, a move that the Supreme Court paved the way for on Wednesday.

Supreme Court cases rest on citizens who sued -- and made history

California's Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage in May 2008, ruling that the state's constitution gives "this basic civil right to (marry to) all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples."

But months later, 52% of voters backed Proposition 8 to once again restrict marriages so that they could only be between a man and a woman.

A federal appeals court ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, though it still issued a stay on same-sex marriages until the U.S. Supreme Court could weigh in.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee said, "Now, and from this day forward, same-sex couples can share in the same joy that is available to all Americans."

City Hall will be open Saturday and Sunday for similar ceremonies.

Stier told reporters before the ceremony that she believes young Californians can now grow up feeling "they can be who they want to be" -- with government protection for all.

"I have never felt equal and I will after I marry," said Perry. "I will belong to a family that I chose."

The couple said their marriage was arranged so quickly Friday and their other three children couldn't attend the ceremony.

So ended California's nine years of legal struggle for same-sex marriage -- in a mere few minutes devoted to roses, kisses and "I do's."

Same-sex marriages resume in California after court gives go-ahead

CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
Same-sex marriage debate
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Fri March 28, 2014
The federal government will recognize gay marriages in Michigan that occurred between recent conflicting court rulings, Attorney General Eric Holder announced.
updated 8:37 AM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
A federal judge struck down Texas' same-sex marriage ban, thanks to a sweeping decision holding that its current prohibition has no "legitimate governmental purpose."
updated 5:46 PM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
Arizona's divisive SB1026 -- which supporters claim protected religious freedom, and critics say served as cover for businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians -- didn't come from nowhere.
updated 12:24 AM EST, Fri February 14, 2014
A federal judge in Virginia has struck down the commonwealth's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, according to court documents.
updated 4:23 PM EST, Wed February 12, 2014
gay couple health insurance jeff jones and Nate Walker
A federal judge ruled that Kentucky's denial of recognition for same-sex marriages violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.
updated 2:46 PM EDT, Fri August 2, 2013
Legally married same-sex spouses seeking U.S. visas will now be treated the same as opposite-sex spouses, Secretary of State John Kerry announced.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Thu August 1, 2013
They've been a couple for two years and are eager to raise two children together. But it wasn't until Thursday that Holli Bartelt and Amy Petrich were allowed to legally wed.
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Thu June 27, 2013
The Supreme Court has struck down a key part of congressional law that denies to legally married same-sex couples the same benefits provided to heterosexual spouses.
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Thu June 27, 2013
The ruling permits same-sex couples in California to legally marry.
updated 9:31 AM EDT, Thu June 27, 2013
More than 50 years ago, military brass sat down the couple who'd become Susan Green's parents.
updated 8:04 AM EDT, Thu June 27, 2013
Thousands of same-sex couples across the U.S. were thrilled by the rulings. But in 37 states, some same-sex couples weren't as happy as they'd hoped to be.
updated 3:31 PM EDT, Sat June 29, 2013
A Hollywood genius might have been hard-pressed to produce a more perfect ending to Melanie Servetas' story.
Find out which states match your values when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
updated 12:05 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Here's a look at what you need to know about same-sex marriage in the U.S. and worldwide.
updated 3:39 PM EDT, Thu August 29, 2013
Same-sex marriage is in the spotlight on the national legal and political stages. Read what's behind the two landmark cases.
Which states allow same-sex marriage, and which states don't?
updated 8:18 PM EDT, Tue June 25, 2013
11-year-old Kevin thought it would be neat if daddy and papa tied the knot on the same day the couple met 15-years earlier on a softball field.
updated 10:58 AM EST, Sat January 19, 2013
Gail Dosik walked into a party, hung up her coat and fell in love; 26 years later, she was finally able to make the beautiful stranger she met that night her legally wedded wife.
updated 4:21 PM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
On her wedding day, Jessica Port wore a tan and black dress to match the tan button-down shirt and patterned necktie of her spouse-to-be, Virginia Anne Cowan.