So... Can We Get Married Yet?

County Clerk prepares for same-sex marriages to resume in Sonoma County

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UPDATE: Marriage licenses will be issued from the county clerk's office and marriages will resume in Sonoma County on Monday, July 1.

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Bill Rousseau hasn’t married a gay couple since 2008—but in his office at the County Clerk yesterday, sure enough, his phone started ringing again.

Following yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn DOMA and dismiss the opponents of Prop 8, the gates have been re-opened for Rousseau to issue licenses for and conduct legal gay marriages in California. It’s something the Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor is anxiously awaiting, and he's not alone, if the interest from couples is any indicator.

His advice for those wanting to get married? “Be patient,” Rousseau advises, because he still has to oblige with the court’s decisions and may have to wait 25 days until he can officially perform same-sex marriages.

Patience has been a key player in the gay rights movement since supporters first celebrated in 2004 when same-sex were performed in San Francisco, and again in 2008 when they were legal statewide. Rousseau remembers being an officiant then, and recalls it being a celebratory time. “There were a lot of people who had come over to get married. It was a really exciting time, and high-energy. As the officiant, I felt very honored to be able to perform some of those services. There were couples that had been together 20, 30 years, finally getting married,” he says.

Now, Rousseau says, is the time for preparation. This gives Rousseau time to get ready for what he predicts will be a large crowd of happy spouses-to-be. “We’ve got a couple wedding rooms, and we’re going to get some more as this thing develops,” he says. “We’ve got a couple nice arbors at the clerk’s office that we can do for outdoor ceremonies as well. And we’re going to look for more depending on the demand.”

Weekly hours at the clerk’s office, too, could be extended to accommodate the demand, Rousseau says.

Same-sex couples can get the marriage process started by filling out a marriage license application online through the county office’s website. The remaining steps are simply to follow the guidelines on the site, such as remembering that a marriage, for the most part, requires one witness, and that both parties must appear in person to receive a marriage license. Fees for licenses and ceremonies are also provided.

“Keep checking the news,” Rousseau adds. “We’ll issue a press release when we know that we can start doing them.”

UPDATE: Marriage licenses will be issued from the county clerk's office and marriages will resume in Sonoma County on Monday, July 1.

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