The two couples who sued to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage were married late Friday afternoon, just hours after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, lifted the stay that had been in place.
The court had stopped same-sex marriages while the case wound its way through the Supreme Court, which issued its decision to clear the path for same-sex marriages in California on Wednesday.
Attorney General Kamala Harris rushed to San Francisco City Hall within minutes of the ruling to perform the wedding for Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, who have been together for more than 15 years and have four sons.
Many legal experts and advocates had expected the court to wait for an official decision from the Supreme Court, as is the normal practice. But after the initial ruling was issued on Wednesday, Ms. Harris urged the Circuit Court to act immediately and said she would ensure that all counties in the state were prepared to issue licenses to same-sex couples.
Just after 3 p.m. Friday, the three-judge panel issued a one-sentence ruling lifting the stay on a district judge’s injunction to not enforce the ban on same-sex marriages.
Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement late Friday afternoon saying that he had directed the state’s Department of Health to notify all 58 counties in the state that “same-sex marriage is now legal in California and that marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples immediately.”
While Sacramento County officials said they planned to stay open late Friday to issue licenses, most applicants were probably waiting until Monday, when all counties will be open for regular business.
Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, on his last workday in office, officiated at the Friday evening wedding of Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo, the two other plaintiffs in the case. Until Friday afternoon, they had no idea when their marriage could take place.
“Nobody really knew; that’s what our lawyers are there for. We don’t really care about any of that at this point, but we’re on our way to see the mayor,” Mr. Zarrillo told KCRW, a public radio station in Los Angeles.
The pair were stuck in traffic en route from their home to the county office to obtain their marriage license and then to City Hall downtown. But by 6:30 they walked in front of dozens of television cameras, kissed Mayor Villaraigosa and were pronounced married.
“Your relationship is an inspiration to us all,” Mr. Villaraigosa said. “Today, your wait is finally over.”
“Equal feels different,” Mr. Katami said. Mr. Zarrillo added, “Equal feels good.”
John J. Duran, a councilman from West Hollywood, said that within hours of the court ruling Friday he had promised to officiate at two weddings next week.
Andy Pugno, the general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, said the court had rushed a decision on Proposition 8, the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, and called it a “disgraceful day for California.”
“This outrageous act tops off a chronic pattern of lawlessness, throughout this case, by judges and politicians hellbent on thwarting the vote of the people to redefine marriage by any means, even outright corruption,” he said in a statement.
Six months after the State Supreme Court ruled that gay men and lesbians had the right to be married, California voters approved the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.
An estimated 18,000 couples were married during that six-month window in 2008, and while the state’s highest court ruled that the ban was legal, it said same-sex marriages that had already occurred remained valid.
In City Hall in San Francisco, hundreds packed the rotunda — some weeping with joy — to watch Ms. Perry, in a beige suit, and Ms. Stier, in an eggshell dress, marry.
After standing in silence for the ceremony, the crowd erupted into cheers when Ms. Harris announced them “spouses for life.”
“These marriages are legitimate, they are legal and they are going to continue, and it’s about time,” Ms. Harris said.
Dozens of couples were lined up to follow the brides. The San Francisco County Clerk planned to stay open three hours later on Friday and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday to issue marriage licenses and perform weddings.
Cathy Sutton, 57, and Christina Segatto, 56, were having lunch in their apartment nearby when they heard the news that weddings would begin immediately.
“We ran over here,” said Ms. Sutton, her brow still sweaty. “We didn’t even have time to change.”
So Ms. Sutton was married wearing a faded Super Bowl sweatshirt and Ms. Segatto in jeans. They planned to celebrate over drinks Friday night.
“Since we didn’t have time to plan our wedding we’re going to go plan our honeymoon,” Ms. Segatto said.