New marriage license forms available

May 29, 2008 7:03:16 PM PDT
Brides-to-be Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac can't wait to fill out the new state marriage license forms that reflect the changes that allow same-sex couples to get married.

"I don't care what they call us. Party A and Party B is fine with me! I don't know who's going to be which, but ? [laughs]," says Pontac.

The state Department of Public Health, which oversees the Office of Vital Records, just sent the new forms out to local county clerks and said they could start issuing them as early as June 17th.

The California Supreme Court will decide by then whether to let its ruling on same-sex marriages take effect.

The boxes for the two people getting married are now gender neutral, saying "Party A" and "Party B."

"We worked with the counties on different options for what we could include, instead of bride and groom and that's the consensus that we came up with. It is consistent with other parts of California state law," says Suanne Buggy of the California Dept. of Public Health.

"So what are they going to say? 'I now pronounce you Party A and Party B?'" says Meredith Turney of the Capitol Resources Institute.

Traditional marriage supporters are upset. They'll likely have a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, which would essentially overturn the state Supreme Court's ruling.

"It's a bit presumptuous for the government to go ahead and do this because the voters have an opportunity in November to voice their opinion once again on this issue," says Turney.

After being featured in several national newspapers reporting on that historic state Supreme Court ruling last month, Shelly and Ellen are counting on a mid-June start date. They'll be one of the first couples in line with the new marriage license form filled out.

"I have always said I will feel truly equal when every person in California has the same marriage form that I do. And we do. I love it!" says Pontac.

Hoping that other gay couples across the country will take Ellen and Shelly's lead, the California Tourism Commission is also gearing up to promote California as a same-sex wedding and honeymoon destination.


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