Same-Sex Couples Flock to Marry in Calif.: LA County Issues 500 Licenses Since Friday

PHOTO: California Same-Sex Marriage
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Nearly five years after same-sex marriages came to a halt in California, brides and grooms to-be have begun to flock to get hitched in wake of the Supreme Court ruling to restore same-sex marriages in the state.

Gay couples immediately began tying the knot after a federal court gave the go-ahead for same sex marriages to recommence in the state Friday evening.

Once the state's 58 county clerks and recorders received notice from the California Department of Health to resume issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, officials scrambled to extend their office's hours to accommodate the anticipated matrimonial demand.

The mandate was issued the same day the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dissolved the enforcement of Proposition 8, according to a California Department of Public Health news release.

Prop 8 Supporters' Emergency Request to Halt Marriages Denied

The San Francisco County Clerk's Offices extended its hours until 8 p.m. on Friday and kept its doors open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday to issue marriage licenses as well as perform marriage ceremonies, its website stated.

"We had over 327 extra marriage licenses issued between Friday and Saturday, and we're still open," San Francisco City Mayor Ed Lee told ABC News' San Francisco affiliate KGO-TV on Sunday. "And it's not costing us anything, everybody's volunteering they're so happy."

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk also extended its headquarters' hours in Norwalk, Calif., Monday and Tuesday to "address increased activity" on the heels of the circuit court's Prop 8 strike down, a Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk news release stated.

In addition, affiliate branch offices throughout Los Angeles increased the number of commissioners deputized to perform marriages, and extended days and locations available for marriage ceremonies, according to the statement.

L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk spokeswoman Elizabeth Knox told ABC News that approximately 50 couples lined up outside the Norwalk, Calif., headquarters starting at 8 a.m. this morning.

"We really didn't know what to expect. With the permanent ruling, we weren't sure that folks would see the need to come rush as there's no threat [for marriage rights] to be taken away," Knox said. "We're seeing a really high turnover."

Knox said as of this morning, there has been "a steady stream" of same-sex couples showing up for their marriage licenses and scheduling same-day marriage ceremonies.

More than 500 couples completed the online application for marriage licenses in L.A. County since 4 p.m. on Friday, according to the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Facebook page.

Anthony Ruta and Antonio Ruta were the first same-sex couple to get hitched this morning at the Norwalk office, Knox said. The ceremony was officiated by Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan just before 9 a.m. and Knox served as the couple's witness, she said.

ABC News' attempts to reach the Rutas were not immediately successful.

California Wedding Industry Loves Prop 8 Ruling

Within Los Angeles, the city of West Hollywood has even moved to make same-sex marriages free this for afternoon only.

City spokeswoman Lisa Belsanti told ABCNews.com that officials anticipate crowds, but said it was hard to gauge how many people would be lining up to say "I do" outside the West Hollywood Library to be married by deputized officials this afternoon.

"There are some folks who are a little anxious because they don't know if it's something that can be taken away," said Belsanti. "If [2008] was any indication, there were long lines."

"We're ready for one couple or several hundred," she said.

But just because the ceremony was free didn't mean that it wasn't going to be special, she added.

"We've got some party rentals, we're going to have beautiful marriage cabanas," she said. "We're going to do it up."

Belsanti said several local businesses were even making available marriage packages for newlyweds, including popular gay bar and restaurant The Abbey, which is offering wedding cakes, champagne and cocktails for couples who bring their wedding parties over following the civil ceremony.

Ten city of West Hollywood officials will be deputized to perform civil ceremonies for couples free of charge on a first-come, first-serve basis for six hours this afternoon so long as they have a marriage license in tow.

The city is providing a free shuttle between the council chambers and the closest registrar-recorder branch in Beverly Hills in hopes of facilitating the process by which couples get licenses.

L.A. County agreed to waive the $25 fee for the brides and grooms to-be on Monday only. Couples will still have to pay $90 for a public marriage certificate, Belsanti said.

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