County Prepares for Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, Ray Hixson will assemble at a celebratory rally in Mountain View with hundreds of others. And while the LGBT community and its allies are hoping for a party, others want to head down to the Santa Clara County courthouse to apply for a marriage license.

“It will be like 2008 all over again,” says Hixson, an employment law attorney and head of Marriage Equality USA’s Santa Clara County chapter. He refers to the time five years ago, when California’s highest court struck down a voter-imposed ban on same-sex marriage. “I’m absolutely very hopeful.”

County Supervisor Ken Yeager, who’s openly gay, already asked the courthouse to prepare for an influx of same-sex couples ready to tie the knot.

“Like many of you, I am eagerly awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-gender marriages as it rules on both Proposition 8 and DOMA,” Yeager wrote in a message disseminated earlier this week. “The ruling is expected any day now.”

As he did in summer 2008, Yeager spoke with the county’s clerk-recorder, Gina Alcomendras, to make sure that each of the 27 windows in her office is staffed and ready to process marriage applications. Everyone should be at work that day in case they’re needed to perform marriages, Yeager told her. If the demand’s high enough, he suggests the county assemble some volunteers.

“If the court rules in favor of marriage equality in California, pent-up demand will likely lead to an increase in license requests in the first few days or weeks,” Yeager says.

Five years ago this month, when a California court decision briefly legalized same-sex unions, dozens of couples married in county offices, in the chapel, in conference rooms, in the park and even in Yeager’s office. He officiated some.

“As a Deputy Marriage Commissioner myself, I personally had the honor of marrying the first gay and first lesbian couple that morning,” he says. “I went on to perform another eight weddings that day and nearly 50 by the end of the summer. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of equality, Santa Clara County will be just as prepared as before.”

Yeager warns that even if the Supreme Court decision comes in favor of gay marriage, there could be delays before it’s fully legalized again. But once it’s in the clear, he looks forward to officiating more weddings for couples that have waited “far too long to get married.”

Should the court strike down same-sex marriage bans, Marriage Equality USA is compiling a list of places people can gather.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

7 Comments

  1. > County Prepares for Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage

    (Yawn.)  Well, this really lit up the old blogaroo and set the posters buzzing.

    I don’t get it.

    What’s so special about Ken Yeagers’s right nostril?

    Is it the first openly gay right nostril or something?

  2. “If the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality”

    —it rules against California’s tradition of majority rule, the very process to which Ken Yeager owes his position as office holder. Of course, this troubles not at all the self-centered hypocrite who has demonstrated he views the world not through a lens of democracy but one distorted by a rainbow of colors.

    There are compelling reasons to believe that had the gay community conducted itself in a mature and responsible manner over the last four decades the voters of this state would’ve been swayed to give them the marriage rights they covet—“rights” that otherwise have no basis in law. But instead of maturity the gay community gave the public decades of increasingly vulgar and disgusting parades, and where responsibility was the proper course they instead chose to loudly and unfairly blame others for the death toll of their own behavior-based disease.

    Majority rule is nothing to scoff at: were it not for the public’s almost universal acceptance of it neither Ken Yeager nor any other of the delicate liberals who run this state would be in office; they would instead be cowering, powerless private citizens in a lawless, testosterone-dominated culture. The loss of majority rule would return to power the bold and the fearless, and render as subservient every one else; it would be high school gym class all over, with the likes of Ken Yeager once again in jeopardy of being stuffed inside a locker.

    Majority rule alone gives muscle to the weak, and the weak are proving they don’t know how to wield it.

  3. Just to be clear, though, even assuming that the Supreme Court strikes down Prop 8, either directly or by dismissing the case for lack of standing, clerks will not be able to issue marriage licenses the day that decision comes down or, in fact, for at least 25 days afterwards.

    1. After the Supreme Court issues a ruling, the losing party has a 25-day window in which to file for a rehearing. Then the Supreme Court has to act on that request. To be sure, such a rehearing is almost never granted by the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t change the fact that the losing side procedurally is entitled to ask for one; given our opposition’s willingness to delay equality even when they know they have lost, it seems likely that they would take advantage of this opportunity, and not unlikely that they would wait out the entire 25 days to do so.

    2. Once the Supreme Court has issued its decision about a rehearing, sometime within or after the 25-day window, the case then has to go back to at least the Ninth Circuit to be officially disposed of; it’s the Ninth Circuit’s stay that currently is in effect. Should the Ninth Circuit’s own ruling be abrogated by the Supreme Court based on lack of standing for the Prop 8 proponents to appeal the original District Court decision, then the District Court also may have to be involved again. There’s no specific time frame in which this has to occur, though I would expect either of these courts to act quickly.

    3. There is also a rigorous legal debate about precisely how broad or narrow the ruling could be interpreted. Some legal scholars say that the ruling might only legally allow the two plaintiff couples named in the suit to marry, or only couples in Alameda and Los Angeles counties where the plaintiffs reside. I disagree with this as a matter of interpretation and of public policy and equity, but it would be up to California officials to decide, and there likely could be even more litigation challenging such decisions.

    All of this is to say that I expect it to be AT LEAST 25-30 days before California clerks would be able to start issuing marriage licenses, and it could theoretically be longer. I urge couples to wait to hear from a reliable source—from Marriage Equality USA, from the state’s Attorney General, from the local City Attorney’s or County Clerk’s office, etc.—before heading down to City Hall on the Day of Decision or even shortly thereafter only to be turned away at the clerk’s desk because of the fact that the decision legally can’t yet be implemented.

    From personal experience I can tell you that it doesn’t feel good to be denied a marriage license, and remember also that many of these clerks want to be able to issue licenses, and hate having to deny people, but they have to follow the law until it is finally and clearly struck down and the administrative and procedural issues resolved.

  4. It may be that at some point down the road the homosexual community is going to awaken from this politically driven obsession and feel very embarrassed.
    Marriage is not a “right” it is a recognition that goes way, way back to humans early beginnings,  long before we were living in caves.  This recognition is the fact that two people, specifically, individuals with the XX and the XY chromosome “unite” shall we say and create the next generation of the species.  The formula XX + XY = human evolution.

    Over time all societies and cultures recognized this in various civil forms.  Religion got in on the act and made it into what has become the billion dollar industry that gets so many all nostalgic and sentimental Marriage is a recognition of human evolution through procreation not just two people who want to get married for the sake of trying to appear as the rest of the herd.  That’s fake and nobody is fooled by the politically correct argument that it is a “right” its not.

    Cannot two same gender persons acquire all the “rights” of married persons with domestic partner laws?  They should and establish a union that is truly representative of who they are recognizing them for themselves and not trying to “pass” as mom and dad.

    The talent, creativity and zest for life that the homosexual community brings to the world I fear would be dampened severely by setting up shop as June and Ward Clever.

  5. Thank you Jennifer for your article on the impending HUGE U.S. Supreme Court ruling.  I wanted to clarify for everyone that the rallies in Mountain View and other locations will happen on the day of the decision whether we win or lose at the U.S. Supreme Court.  Either way, this will be an important time for equality supporters to come together. Ray

  6. San Jose LGBT Community Day of Decision:  On the day the US Supreme Court announces the decision in the Marriage cases, the Community will get together on that day at San Jose City Hall at 6:00 pm.