Couples hope cycle of ceremonies is over 

For many same-sex couples, every chance to make tying the knot official is a way to be part of a historic battle about gay marriage. But when the cake is being cut for the third, fourth or fifth time, marriage can seem a bit commonplace.

Now, with another round of weddings scheduled to begin today, many couples are looking to make this next step stand out.

There are couples such as Anne Marie Rogers and Jewlia Eisenberg, who fell in love six years ago while traveling through the Southwest by motorcycle.

Rogers, who works for The City, and Eisenberg, who fronts the klezmer band Charming Hostess, married in the 2004 Valentine’s Day crush at City Hall, applied and reapplied multiple times for a state domestic partnership, had a ceremony with friends and family and are planning to get hitched, technically, for the fifth time.

"It’s become a bit like renewing our vows." Rogers said.

Rogers, 39, and Eisenberg, 35, are not alone. Many same-sex couples are becoming old pros when it comes to saying "I do," according to Cynthia Goldstein with The City’s Human Rights Commission.

"It’s not the traditional Lifetime Channel movie wedding anymore if you’ve already stood up in front of your family and friends, cut the cake, gone on a honeymoon," Goldstein said.

Goldstein and her partner, Gloria Shaffer, registered in 1992. Although they have gone through at least four ceremonies since, it still remains their official date. When same-sex couples are allowed to marry again today after 5 p.m., they hope to plan something low-key, but not too dull, like polishing their wedding rings and taking a holiday weekend.

But while making things interesting is on many minds, a long engagement isn’t. Many are nervous that a November ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriage could pass.

"I’m not sure if our marriage would be invalidated, but it would be horrible to have to go through this all over again," Goldstein said. "I can think of plenty of good reasons to eat cake, and getting married again isn’t one of them."

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

The road to ‘ever after’

In San Francisco, today’s same-sex nuptials will be the culmination of two decades of work.

» 1982: A domestic-partnership ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors is vetoed by Mayor Dianne Feinstein.

» 1989: Supervisors pass another domestic-partnership ordinance, which Mayor Art Agnos approves. It guarantees hospital visitation rights for registered couples and bereavement leave for city workers.

» 1996: Another ordinance, signed by Mayor Willie Brown, allows city workers the right to share medical benefits with domestic partners. Brown presides over civil ceremonies.

» 2000: State Legislature passes domestic-partnership law, allowing same-sex couples several rights guaranteed to married couples.

» 2003: Another state law passes, allowing domestic partners access to their partner’s medical benefits.

» Feb. 12, 2004: Mayor Gavin Newsom authorizes the county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

» March 11, 2004: The California Supreme Court orders an immediate halt to same-sex weddings in The City. Applications begin to pour in for state domestic-partnership registration.

» May 15, 2008: California Supreme Court overturns the same-sex marriage ban on a 4-3 vote.

» June 16, 2008: The City plans to start wedding same-sex couples after 5 p.m.

Same-sex marriage question and answer

A rundown of what the state high court’s decision means for Bay Area residents.

WHAT STARTED THIS?

» The state Supreme Court ruled May 15 that same-sex couples had equal protection under the law, and that laws banning same-sex marriage violated those constitutional rights. The decision becomes final after 5 p.m. today.

WHAT WILL THE CITY DO?

» San Francisco will wed one couple after 5 p.m. today and begin issuing licenses to all other couples Tuesday.

WHAT ARE OTHER BAY AREA COUNTIES DOING?

» Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums will officiate Alameda County’s first gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies at Oakland City Hall today at 6 p.m.

» Sonoma will begin issuing licenses after 5 p.m. today.

» San Mateo, Marin and Santa Clara will begin Tuesday.

DO I NEED TO BE A CALIFORNIA RESIDENT TO MARRY?

» No. The state does not have a residential requirement to obtain marriage licenses.

IS THERE ANY POSSIBILITY SAME-SEX MARRIAGES WILL END?

» Conservative groups have gathered enough valid signatures to place a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot. The amendment would prohibit same-sex marriages by altering the constitution that marriage is between a man and a woman.

 

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Brent Begin

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