Parade attendees gather in the City Hall rotunda during the San Francisco… (Susannah Kay / Los Angeles…)
SAN FRANCISCO--In any other setting, the weddings would have qualified as intimate. Each ceremony was nothing more than two spouses-to-be, a black-robed county official and a few witnesses. Sometimes a handful of flowers added a touch of color.
But on Sunday, in the middle of a packed room in San Francisco City Hall, each wedding was just one small part of a much larger celebration.
And outside the building, the sprawling and boisterous gay pride celebration continued. The deep bass of dance music from a nearby party echoed through the room.
Annie Ebiner, 34, and Jen Berman, 33, were married in a corner of the room, and each wiped tears from her eyes as they exchanged vows. They were engaged to be married after a proposal on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro a year and a half ago.
They decided to get married on Sunday morning and drove an hour and a half from their home near Santa Rosa -- even though Ebiner is nine months pregnant. In fact, she was due Friday.
"We weren't certain whether this window [to be married] would stay open," Ebiner said. "When this became available, we wanted to get it done before the baby."
By the end of the day Sunday, 236 marriage licenses had been issued, according to the mayor's office. More couples were waiting in line as volunteers rushed to process as many marriages as possible.
Mike Hager, 70, and David McCauley, 74, arrived to tie the knot after 30 years together.
McCauley walked with a cane a wore a tie shirt emblazoned with a rainbow-colored infinity symbol. Hager had a straw cowboy hat.
"I never thought I'd see the day," McCauley said. When they started dating, marriage "was something that happened to straight people."
Then, on Friday, after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals formally ended the Proposition 8 ban, he asked Hager to marry him.
"This is a great day for everyone," McCauley said. "For the whole world."
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