SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Dozens of couples in jeans, shorts, white dresses and the occasional military uniform filled San Francisco City Hall on Saturday as clerks resumed issuing marriage licenses one day after a federal appeals court removed the last obstacle to making same-sex matrimony legal again in California.
Although a few clerk's offices around the state stayed open late on Friday, San Francisco was the only jurisdiction to hold weekend hours so same-sex couples could take advantage of their newly restored right, Clerk Karen Hong said.
A sign posted on the door of the office where a long line of couples waited to fill out applications listed the price for a license, a ceremony or both above the words "Equality=Priceless."
"We really wanted to make this happen," Hong said, adding that her whole staff and a group of volunteers came into work without having to be asked. "It's spontaneous, which is great in its own way."
The timing could not have been better for California National Guard Capt. Michael Potoczniak, 38, and his partner of 10 years, Todd Saunders, 47, of El Cerrito.
Potoczniak, who joined the Guard after the military's ban on openly gay service was repealed almost two years ago, is scheduled to fly out Sunday night for a month of basic training in Texas.
"I woke up this morning, shook him awake and said, 'Let's go," said Potoczniak, who chose to get married in his Army uniform. "It's something that people need to see because everyone is so used to uniforms at military weddings."
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriage to return to the nation's most populous state by ruling 5-4 on Wednesday that the sponsors of California's voter-approved ban on same-sex unions lacked authority to defend the measure in court.
Also Wednesday, the Supreme Court overturned the federal law that prevented the government from awarding federal benefits to same sex couples, a decision with extra significance for military couples such as Saunders and Potoczniak.
"It scared me, honestly, before this all happened, that something could happen to me," Potoczniak said, "Things like my body, who would take care of him, even just getting the health insurance...It gives me a lot more peace of mind to know that the Army is taking care of us."
Also waiting to wed Saturday were Scott Kehoe, 34, and his fiancee, Aurelien Bricker, 24. After finding out on Facebook that the city was issuing same-sex marriage licenses Friday, the San Francisco couple rushed out to Tiffany's to buy wedding rings.