The lead plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned California's same-sex marriage ban tied the knot at San Francisco City Hall on Friday, about an hour after a federal appeals court freed same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses for the first time in 4 1/2 years.
State Attorney General Kamala Harris presided at the wedding of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, of Berkeley, as hundreds of supporters looked on and cheered. The couple sued to overturn the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban along with Jeff Katami and Paul Zarrillo of Burbank.
Harris declared Perry, 48, and Stier, 50, "spouses for life," but during their vows, they took each other as "lawfully wedded wife." One of their twin sons served as ring-bearer.
Although the couple have fought for the right to wed for years, their wedding came together in a flurry when a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order Friday afternoon dissolving, "effective immediately," a stay it imposed on gay marriages while the lawsuit challenging the ban advanced through the courts.
Katami and Zarrillo got married Friday evening at Los Angeles City Hall, officiated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
"I don't know if you can describe or have a word for how equal feels, but my parents have been married for decades, my grandparents before them for decades, and this is just an amazing feeling," said Zarrillo.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages in California after ruling that Proposition 8 defenders did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings.
The 5-4 vote leaves in place the initial trial court declaration that the ban is unconstitutional, but the court avoided making a sweeping decision on the constitutionality of gay marriage restrictions.
Gov. Jerry Brown directed the California Department of Public Health to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples as soon as a federal appeals court lifted its stay on a lower court ruling in the case. The federal appeals court had earlier said it would wait at least 25 days before making a decision on lifting the stay, but on Friday, the court said gay marriages can resume immediately in California.
Prop. 8 was approved by California voters in 2008, defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Because California officials declined to defend the law, lawyers for the original sponsors of the initiative stepped in.
Also Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied benefits to legally married gay couples. The ruling means that legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.