Hundreds of "Spouses for Life" Wed in California on First Full Day of Legal Same-Sex Marriage

By Christine Cupaiuolo — June 17, 2008

Congratulations to Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84 — longtime gay rights activists who were the first to wed in San Francisco Monday, on the eve of the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout California.

“When we first got together we weren’t thinking about getting married,” said Lyon before cutting a wedding cake, according to The New York Times. “I think it’s a wonderful day.”

It was actually their second wedding — their first took place four years ago, also in San Francisco, when Mayor Gavin Newsom sanctioned same-sex weddings. The California Supreme Court later invalidated those marriages.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Martin and Lyon have been at the forefront of the gay-rights movement since they moved in together in 1953. They’ve fought for equality for gays and lesbians in the workplace, housing, the medical establishment, the feminist movement and, most recently, the institution of marriage.

Martin wore a purple pantsuit and stood up from her wheelchair to face Lyon, dressed in a blue pantsuit. During the six-minute ceremony, the two held hands as they recited their vows to love and honor each other, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Their eyes welled with tears.

Lyon was the first to say “I do,” her voice resonating in the room. Martin’s “I do,” which came next, was more muted, audible only to those close by. They exchanged rings – the ones they’ve worn before – hugged, and then kissed each other lightly.

The room erupted in cheers – and tears.

For more coverage, check out the Chronicle’s multimedia section on same-sex marriage, which includes profiles of couples saying, “I do”; multiple photo albums; and Chronicle reporter Jim Doyle discussing the recent history of same-sex marriage.

The L.A. Times, meanwhile, looks at the high number of marriage licenses issued as of 5 p.m. Tuesday in California. Here’s a map that shows how counties are handling same-sex marriages; a report on the tactics of opponents (who are apparently lying low for now); and a reader Q&A that even answers questions like this: “Our friend was ‘ordained’ by the ‘Church of the Latter-Day Dude’ and performed his sister’s ceremony in South Carolina last month. Does he need to do anything else to be able to marry us in California?”

Finally, here’s a look at reaction from other countries. Bruce Wallace writes:

Many parts of Europe have reacted with a collective shrug to the California Supreme Court ruling that found the ban on same-sex marriage to be discriminatory. Same-sex marriage has been legal in the Netherlands since 2001, in Belgium since 2003 and in Spain since 2005. The move by the second U.S. state to join them brought only cursory news coverage.

Elsewhere, Canada has officially recognized same-sex marriage since 2005. South Africa stands out as the exception on a continent where homosexuality is largely taboo. It passed a law in 2006 to recognize homosexual marriages after a Constitutional Court ruling said anything less would treat gays and lesbians as inferior.

And Norway happened to legalize same-sex marriage today.

One response to “Hundreds of “Spouses for Life” Wed in California on First Full Day of Legal Same-Sex Marriage”

  1. The public radio stations are covering the various courthouses and ceremonies this week too–I heard a series of on-the-scene reports and interviews this morning on KPCC:

    My favorite was a couple getting their license yesterday (for a ceremony later in the month), who had been together for decades and seemed very happy, but bemused by the attention: “We were a whole lot more glamorous 36 years ago,” the women insisted with a laugh.

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