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.