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June 17, 2008




Only A Few Same-Sex Marriages In San Mateo Co.



REDWOOD CITY (BCN) ― Beth and Lisa Shapiro, the first registered same-sex couple in San Mateo County, had tears of joy in their eyes as they filed their marriage license at the county clerk's office in Redwood City on Tuesday.

"We're just thrilled," they said, their arms around each other as they received a copy of their license.

They stood in line at 8 a.m. to get the license, and were then married by a reverend from the Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church in the County Center plaza.

Natives of Cleveland, Ohio, the couple has been together for 3.5 years, and had a Holy Union ceremony on Feb. 26, 2006, Lisa Shapiro said.

The two are currently living in the Bay Area so that Beth Shapiro can get her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center in San Francisco.

"We just looked at each other last night and decided to do it," Beth Shapiro said. "We wanted to make it legal, it just felt right." 

The county clerk's office was to perform four same-sex marriages Tuesday and about two a day for the rest of the week, Deputy Clerk Theresa Rabe said. The office had issued between 30 and 40 licenses as of midday.

"There were around 20 couples waiting at 8 a.m. when the doors opened, and since then they have just been trickling in," Rabe said.

The state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on May 15 that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the state constitution. The law went into effect at 5 p.m. Monday, but the San Mateo County Clerk's office did not stay open late to officiate marriages or issues licenses.

An initiative that would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages will be on the ballot in November.

The community church performing the marriages planned on staying in the sun-drenched courtyard all day Tuesday.

Couples did not need to register or have a reservation; then could just come and be joined in marriage, Reverend Terri Echelbarger said. In the ceremonies, Echelbarger is using a bell her grandmother used during suffrage marches in the 1910s.

"I thought it was a nice connection of history," Echelbarger said. "The bell was used to fight for women's equality, and now its being used for the equality of marriage."

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