Local News

Friday, Jun 28 2013 05:03 PM

Kern to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses Monday

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    By AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

    Kris Perry, left, and Sandy Stier wave after they were married at City Hall in San Francisco, Friday, June 28, 2013. Stier and Perry were married Friday, June 28, 2013, after a federal appeals court on Friday cleared the way for the state of California to immediately resume issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a 4 1/2-year freeze.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Kristina Straw, right, holds two rally signs and says she is very happy with the ruling and her husband is equally happy. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Wednesday. The top sign says equality for everyone and the bottom one reads straight, but not narrow.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Whitney Weddell, right, chairperson of the Bakersfield LGBTQ hugs a friend Wednesday evening on Stockdale Highway during a rally celebrating after the United States Supreme Court struck down a law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman only, in a landmark ruling.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Same-sex marriages will resume in Kern County first thing Monday morning.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal removed its stay on same sex marriages late Friday afternoon, and Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the California Department of Public Health to immediately direct counties to begin issuing licences to couples.

But while other counties moved immediately to comply with the directive, Kern County officials first delayed. The Kern County clerk's office closed at 4 p.m. Friday, just minutes after news broke that the stay had been lifted.

And Monday marriages were in question for a short time.

Kern County Auditor-Controller Mary Bedard said -- just after 4 p.m. Friday -- that she didn't have clearance from county lawyers to begin issuing licenses.

She said an attorney from County Counsel Theresa Goldner's office had told her earlier in the week that marriages couldn't resume until the 25-day Supreme Court challenge period had passed.

"Conceivably it could be Monday. But it is looking like it won't be," Bedard said. "We do not do anything until we hear from the California Department of Public Health."

Bedard said she had not yet heard from the Department of Public Health.

A letter from State Registrar Tony Agurto, linked by Brown's office, clearly indicates that counties are to comply with the directive.

"Effective immediately, county clerks shall issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California," he wrote.

Later Bedard called a reporter back to say marriages were on.

She'd heard from the Department of Public Health and Goldner had reviewed the 9th Circuit decision and cleared the way for Bedard to begin issuing marriages.

"We're ready to go," Bedard said.

Goldner said that, once the stay was lifted by the Court of Appeal, Kern County was compelled to issue the licenses.

Whitney Weddell, the leader of the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning community, is planning on being at the county building first thing Monday morning to watch the first couples here get married.

"We're anticipating a pretty good turnout," she said.

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