Calif. readies for gay marriages in June

DAVIS/YOLO COUNTY, Calif. Brides-to-be Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac can't wait to fill out the new state marriage license forms reflecting the changes that allow same-sex couples to get married.

For a slideshow with reactions to the decision to allow gay marriages in California, click here.

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"I don't care what they call us. 'Party A' and 'Party B' is fine with me. I don't know who's going to be which, but..." Ellen said, trailing off into laughter.

The State Department of Public Health, which oversees the Office of Vital Records, just sent the new forms out to local county clerks and said they could start issuing them as early as June 17. The California Supreme Court will decide by then whether to let its ruling on same sex marriages take effect.

The boxes for the two people getting married are now gender-neutral, saying "Party A" and "Party B".

"We worked with the counties on different options for what we could include instead of 'bride' and 'groom.' And that's the consensus that we came up with," said Suanne Buggy from the California Department of Public Health. "It is consistent with other parts of California state law."

Traditional marriage supporters are upset. They'll likely have a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, which would essentially overturn the state Supreme Court's ruling.

"It's a bit presumptuous for the government to go ahead and do this, because the voters have an opportunity in November to voice their opinion once again on this issue," said Meredith Turney from the Capitol Resources Institute.

After being featured on several national newspapers on the day of that historic California Supreme Court ruling last month, Shelly and Ellen are counting on that mid-June start date. They'll be one of the first couples in line with their marriage license form filled out.

"I have always said I will feel truly equal when every person in California has the same marriage form that I do. And we do," said Ellen. "We love that."

In the meantime, the wedding industry - including bakers - is furiously taking orders for upcoming same-sex nuptials. Couples are confident the mid-June start date will be affirmed by the California Supreme Court, but not as confident about what voters will do about the issue in November.

"I think there's going to be like this craziness between now and November of people who want to get it in writing, getting official," said baker Tom Rosa.

Even the California Tourism Commission is gearing up for a mid-June start date, ready to promote the state as the same-sex wedding and honeymoon destination.

To take a look at a draft of the new marriage license form, click here.


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