SF plans for thousands of same sex weddings

June 11, 2008 7:42:25 PM PDT
San Francisco City Hall is planning for thousands of same-sex weddings starting next week. All this week, they are training dozens of volunteers to help handle the crush. This is happening after the State Supreme Court cleared the way last month for same-sex marriages.

If you think a wedding is as simple as saying, 'I do,' this training session at San Francisco City Hall would change your mind.

"Look at what type of ID they gave us. If it's passport or state issued ID," said a woman to the volunteers in training.

There are hundreds of volunteers learning how to issue marriage licenses, perform ceremonies and file records.

"This is a legal process so we want to make sure everybody is consistently applying the rules, the code, that everything is done correctly, because what we're issuing is a legal document," said Karen Hong Yee, Director of the San Francisco County Clerk's Office.

There are only seven staff members in the county clerk's office. Now there will be hundreds of reinforcements.

"This is a historic occasion and I wanted to be part of it. I'm married myself and I think it's a great opportunity for people who want to be married," said Bud Ryerson, a volunteer.

Many volunteers like Jennifer Norris work for the city and will pitch in on their own time. "My partner and I will go through this process later in the week, so I'll be an expert," said Norris, a volunteer.

And they'll definitely need the volunteer help. Right now they have more than 130 couples scheduled to receive marriage licenses on Tuesday alone. That will be the first full day of wedding ceremonies.

The California Supreme Court's decision last month means all California counties must issue same sex marriage licenses. However two counties, Butte and Kern, won't perform any weddings gay or straight, saying they don't have the resources. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom questions that.

"I'm a little suspect with the idea that you can't accommodate for a few extra folks want to get married. Seems a little curious the timing," said Mayor Newsom.

He suggests they recruit volunteers like these in San Francisco. After three hours of training, they took the oath of office and are now deputized to help the wedding whirl move smoothly.

A new ABC7 Listens poll shows most viewers support same sex marriage.

Fifty-nine percent in our survey say they believe marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law.

Thirty-five percent say they should not.

The ABC7 Listens poll was done with the help of viewer email responses over the past few days.

ABC7 Listens Polling Center: click here


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