When a co-worker told Jesse Keyser the state would begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples Friday, he dropped everything at work and sprinted to the car.
Keyser, 26, searched for county registrars open late Friday and filled out the county’s online marriage license application, while his partner Adam Welsh, 26, quickly walked across downtown to meet up with him.
“We were blown away that it happened so fast,” he said. “It’s like that perfect thing you didn’t think would happen.”
Five minutes later, they were in the car. It was 4:15 p.m., 45 minutes before the county clerk’s office was scheduled to close for the weekend. The freeway was stop-and-go, and the couple called several times from their car, pleading with the office to stay open.
By the time they rushed through the sliding glass doors of the Norwalk county clerk’s office at 5:05 p.m., they were told it was too late.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Keyser. “It was just a let-down to realize that the only barrier between us and being able to finally take that step we’ve been waiting years for is someone sitting behind a desk saying they’d like to go home. That that’s more important than something we waited years to do.”
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/Clerk Dean Logan said he received a call from Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris at 4:07 p.m., informing him that marriage licenses were to be issued immediately. Couples who called were told they could obtain a license if they did so by 5 p.m. Keyser said he saw at least a dozen other people turned away.
The office will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday, according to county officials.
Only one marriage license was issued in Los Angeles County today – for the Proposition 8 plaintiffs, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank, who were to be wed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in City Hall on Friday evening.
“We did not know the decision was coming today,” said Logan, adding that the county is preparing to offer expanded access to civil ceremony services for at least 60 days.
“There’s a lot to be happy about, and we certainly share in that happiness. We just want to be sure that our job is done correctly and that we have adequate resources to serve the public.”
Keyser and Welsh, who have been together for four years, say a marriage license will validate their relationship for their families, who Keyser says don’t recognize their relationship.
The two met as undergraduates at Brigham Young University. They returned from their missions shortly before Proposition 8 went up for a vote and came out as others at church were urging Californians to vote yes on the proposition.
“It’s a big deal for us to now see it finally, finally, after so many years, get overturned,” Keyser said.
As he and his partner searched for other nearby counties that might stay open late or through the weekend, Keyser considered the possibility of traveling to San Francisco, where county officials have announced they’ll stay open to perform weddings late tonight and all weekend:
“A plane ticket is our next step.”
[For the record, 8:07 p.m.: A previous version of this post misspelled Jesse Keyser's last name as Kaiser.]
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