On June 17th, 2008, Same Sex Marriage became legal in the State of California.
It has been a long time coming for many.
But today, Lesbiatopia is quite please to announce one of our own… Julie Phineas, Lesbiatopia’s Lesbian Parenting Guru, and her partner Gina are now officially Wife and Wife.
Please join us as we celebrate this very happy day for Julie, Gina, and all of us here at Lesbiatopia.
After a short period of plotting and planning my lesbian wedding, the plans for our big day on June 17 were still up in the air.
I am happy to report that Gina and I were able to get married, and what a beautiful, hectic, and emotional day it was! There were a lot of media cameras present during the morning and at our wedding ceremony, and some of our closest friends and family were able to share cake and champagne in the evening to celebrate. We filled out our application for a marriage license online as soon as they were officially available to same-sex couples on June 16. We could then pick up our marriage license the next day at 8am from the Los Angeles County Clerk in Norwalk. We left the house at 5am and headed over to the courthouse with Gina’s sister Yvonne and her cousin Connie. Once we had the marriage license we could schedule our wedding ceremony there at the County Clerk's Office. We were hoping to be one of the first few couples in line. Since there were only a few couples when we arrived, we were positive at that point that June 17, 2008 was going to be our big day!
I planned to keep everyone posted throughout the day, but I forgot my cell phone at home, and I planned to take lots of pictures but my sister in law left the camera back home too!
There was a reporter from the Whittier Daily News who took our picture and asked us a few questions. He was very nice. As we stood in line we chatted with the couples that were around us and heard a lot of different stories about being gay and what gay marriage meant. We were the fourth or fifth couple in line, and we were within earshot of the first couple in line who were being interviewed constantly. Gina and I were interviewed by KTLA Channel 5 here in Los Angeles, live on their 7am show. A lot of our friends and family told us that they saw us that morning being interviewed. I don’t even remember what I was asked, I was so nervous! I just remember saying that there are a lot of gay families in California, and that we wanted to have the same rights as a family started by straight couples. We met a couple who were avoiding the media, and saw some other couples dodging the cameras as well. There were also couples being interviewed repeatedly by the press covering the event, including a lesbian couple who had been together for close to 40 years. We chose not to have the kids with us because we were worried about protesters, but there was only one, and she didn't have anything to say, she just held a sign a few feet away from the line. Yvonne took as many pictures with her cell phone as she could, and Gina's mother and brother were able to make it over to Norwalk for the ceremony with a camera, so there are a handful of pictures we were able to gather from the morning of our big day:
At 8am we all cheered as the County Clerk's office officially opened and the line began to move.
There was a bit of a mix up with the line and we were led around the back of the building, then back around to the front. There were other people doing business, and some of the workers at the windows were volunteers going slower than others. Some couples were getting ceremonies ahead of the others who had waited ahead of them in line, it was hot and people were sweating and getting cranky but we all just laughed and were still excited about what was about to happen. We were so nervous about getting our ceremony and others getting ahead of us and booking up all the ceremonies for the day! If we couldn’t get married there we would have to try to go to the mass wedding in the Gay and Lesbian Center in Long Beach at 7am or plan a totally different day and ceremony. Luckily we wound up with wedding ceremony #4! As we proceeded to the waiting area for our wedding ceremony, we were each given a rose and some birdseed for after our ceremony from The Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach (website) which was very nice of them. Even though there weren't hundred of couples lined up to get married, the atmosphere was very hectic and busy. The press was actively photographing, interviewing, and broadcasting from the waiting area, and we could hear cheering as the first same-sex couple, Bonni Millon and Chelsea Thompson, were officially married. There were also straight couples waiting to be married, and some couples who had been directed to the wrong area. There was a bit of chaos as different numbers were being called out of order. We quickly made friends with the gay couple who had ceremony #3, and kept our eyes on them to know when it would be close to our turn. Some of the workers weren't sure how to handle the process, and some couples were being married before others. I was so nervous! I didn't want them to accidentally skip over us and I was sweating - I felt like my makeup was wearing off and my hair was frizzing! Other couples were getting frustrated also and we all chatted about it but stayed patient. While we were waiting we were interviewed by a news station that is broadcast in Spanish on Channel 62.
After a while Gina asked somebody what was taking so long and they said they needed couples with all of their paperwork done.
We showed our paperwork, and so did the other couples who had been waiting patiently and after that, the process moved quickly. We were called into the tent to have our wedding ceremony, and we allowed the press to follow. Gina and I, her mom, brother, sister, and cousin, plus Fox Channel 11, Spanish Channel 62, and an unknown photographer were all present as we exchanged vows, shared a kiss, and were declared "spouses for life". Gina and I exchanged flower lei's since we have our rings already, and we held hands and gazed into each others eyes through the short and sweet ceremony. I was filled with emotion as we exchanged our wedding vows, and was very proud to be able to have this experience with Gina, who was now officially my wife... we shared our first few moments as wives kissing and hugging each other, and feeling the moment that our lives were joined as one.
Then there was cheering, crying, and applause, hugs, kisses, and then there was paperwork. Everyone was so excited for us, and everything felt like a dream! The officiant of our ceremony was Nicole Curran, who was a volunteer and we were her first couple to marry so she was excited too. We took pictures, and rushed out and away from the cameras. Nicole gave us some final instructions and paperwork, and we were on our way. Here are the pictures taken during and after our wedding ceremony:
On our way out of the wedding tent we were interviewed and photographed a bit more.
We did a brief radio interview and took some pictures under the gazebo at the photo area. A few photographers snapped some shots and gave me their card to get copies of the photos. People handed us fliers for catering, custom cookies, and wedding services, plus we were solicited for donations to help fight the attempt to ban same sex marriage in California in November. When we got home we started text messaging our friends and family and fielding phone calls from people who had seen us on TV. Our neighbor sent over a nice bottle of tequila and their congratulations since he and his family had seen us on Channel 62. Gina and our good friend Efren began gathering the goodies such as the cake and champagne, and I changed out of my skirt and heels into some jeans and slippers, since I had been on the go all day. The kids got out of school a little after noon, and they were excited to hear all about how the morning went and how we were on TV. A few hours later my sister and her husband, Gina's parents, and a few other siblings and close friends who had heard about our big day began to come over to the house. My father's new wife was able to make it, and apologized as she told me how my father refused to come. I didn't let it get me down, and was happy when she told me that she doesn't share the same views that he does and wished us the best. My father-in-law made a toast, my older sister made a toast, and Gina and I said thank you to everyone for being there, and a small prayer for my mom who was still in the hospital. Gina and I cut the cake with the kids as a family, and we let them help us feed each other a piece of the cake. The kids were very happy and a lot of the family told us they were proud of us. One cousin asked why it was so important for us to get married that day, and I made a small speech about how important marriage rights were for our children, and for the security of our family. (But if you ask Gina, she’ll tell you that we got married because we love each other and want to be together for all eternity!!! lol)
It was a monumental day for us because we were waiting so long for a chance to have our big day. It felt great to know that we, as a lesbian couple, now have the same basic marriage rights as a straight couple, and our children have certain protections because of that. We all held our glasses high in a toast to celebrate.
Family and friends who had heard the news kept on coming by to pay their respects through the evening and we even cracked open the bottle of tequila!
Our other neighbor heard the news and she put together a nice wedding night gift with new robes and handcuffs and a pair of 'romantic' dice! It was a very tasteful and thoughtful gift, and it was very sweet of her to put that together for us. Gina and I chatted with our guests, and snuck little moments together to cherish the experience we were having together. The kids were running around happy with the guests and cake, and it felt great to have so much support for our relationship. I still wished my father had come to his senses and been there to offer a toast as well, but I didn't let it get me down and I sent a piece of our wedding cake home with my stepmother for him. At about midnight everyone had gone home and the kids got cleaned up and tucked in. We laughed as we put on our new robes – they were so soft and plush. After such a looong big day, we fell asleep where we landed in our soft new robes, for the first time as Mrs. and Mrs. Phineas.