Sunday, June 15, 2008

City Hall helping same-sex couples tie the knot

California Update from Running Bear.
S. F. City worker Eileen Shields usually spends her days answering
questions about West Nile Virus, bed bugs and other health concerns, but
next week she'll be one of hundreds of volunteers at City Hall helping
same-sex couples tie the knot.
Shields, who works in the communications office at the city's Department
of Public Health, was inspired to help pronounce couples "spouses for
life" because her daughter married a woman in Massachusetts last year
and she wanted to help others share the same joy.
"Those are powerful words and it's a very solemn responsibility," said
Shields, who is volunteering on her own time.
On Monday, California is due to become the second state to allow gays to
marry, and county officials statewide are preparing for an expected
flood of weddings over the next several weeks. To help absorb the
crowds, they are adding staff, extending hours and training and
deputizing hundreds of volunteer marriage commissioners.
San Francisco expects to have trained more than 200 volunteer
commissioners, most of them city staff, to help marry same-sex couples.
In San Diego County, more than 50 workers from other departments within
the clerk-recorder's office have volunteered to issue licenses and to
keep up with demand. In Los Angeles County, about 100 people have been
deputized over the past two weeks to perform nuptials.
"We're expecting a crush of newlyweds," said Mayor Jeffrey Prang of West
Hollywood, where five city council members are expected to be deputized
Monday night so they can start performing ceremonies the next morning.

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