Gay Marriage Forum Attracts Hundreds

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Gays and lesbians peppered Los Angeles County's Clerk-Recorder with questions about how to get married at a forum in Hollywood Thursday night. Clerk Dean Logan predicts that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people will take advantage of the first day of legal same-sex marriage in California next Tuesday. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports.

Frank Stoltze: Hundreds of people packed the auditorium, and spilled outside of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center. Their questions ran the gamut.

Questioner: Are there specific vows that are used in a civil ceremony, or can we bring our own vows, or how does that work?

Stoltze: L.A County Clerk-Recorder Dean Logan said couples may write their own scripts. The law requires his staff to ask only whether both people are willingly entering the marriage before a clerk declares them wed.

Logan recalled denying gay couples marriage licenses when he worked in Washington state a few years ago. He made a point of saying he's glad it's different now in California.

Dean Logan: We are excited to be able to do that for you next week, starting on Tuesday, the 17th. (applause)

Stoltze: Logan said the marriage license costs $70. A 15-minute wedding ceremony is an extra 25. Otherwise, couples will have to go to a licensed clergy member.

Questioner: Just a quick other question: do we automatically entitled to all the rights? Is it considered a domestic partnership when you're married?
Jenny Pizer: Registered domestic partnership and marriage are different.

Stoltze: Attorney Jenny Pizer represented gay couples in the state Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage. She said married couples may want to remain registered domestic partners because most states won't recognize their marriages.

Pizer: My job is to underscore that with the joy comes legal rights and responsibilities, and to encourage you all to be thinking some about that, even though it seems like it's a little bit of a downer. But actually, it's really important.

Stoltze: Pizer explained that a complicated state and federal legal landscape remains for gay and lesbian couples. One spouse-to-be admitted his partner is still reluctant to navigate the romantic landscape.

Questioner: I want to marry him! And he said, well, we have domestic partner, we have power of attorney, we have a will. What do we need to get married for? Would you address him please, for me? (laughing)

Stoltze: The panel said the decision to marry is one the two will have to work out for themselves, just as straight couples do.