Appeals court lifts hold on gay marriages in CA

A federal court Friday afternoon unexpectedly lifted California's ban on same-sex marriages, triggering another round of celebration and setting the stage for a rush on county courthouses by couples seeking marriage licenses and civil wedding ceremonies.

The decision had not been expected for several more weeks.

In Sonoma County, the clerk's office immediately began receiving calls from gay and lesbian couples and quickly began scheduling appointments, beginning when doors open 8 a.m. Monday.

Among those to call was a woman "too excited to talk," said legal processor Judith Garcia said. But when she handed the phone to her partner, she, too, stumbled over her words in her elation.

When a man called to make his own inquiries, he also was highly emotional, Garcia said.

"You can sense the anxiety, the excitement," she said.

Two high-profile marriages were conducted late Friday afternoon with the weddings of the couples whose lawsuit led to the toppling of Prop. 8, the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier of Berkeley were married by state Attorney General Kamala Harris at San Francisco City Hall a short time after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced it was lifting the stay.

Southern California plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo married two hours later at Los Angeles City hall.

The day's developments marked a turn-around from earlier warnings that it would take 25 days to finalize the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Wednesday that proponents of Prop. 8 had no legal standing to challenge a 2010 lower federal court ruling that invalidated Prop. 8.

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