Heterosexual couples were rushing to get married in a conservative California county that plans to halt all civil wedding ceremonies as gay marriage is set to be legalized.
Kern County clerk Ann Barnett said that Friday would the last day the county would perform civil weddings.
Starting on Tuesday, when the California Supreme Court’s order legalizing same-sex marriage takes effect, Kern will issue new gender-neutral marriage licenses as required by law. But couples seeking to get hitched will have to go somewhere else for the ceremony.
Barnett said the increased demand for ceremonies would overwhelm her staff and pose office security risks. She made the announcement after learning she could not marry only couples of her choosing.
Officials in Calaveras and Butte counties would also stop performing weddings for all couples because, among other reasons, the increased demand would overwhelm their staffs.
San Francisco city worker Eileen Shields usually spends her days answering questions about West Nile Virus, bed bugs and other health concerns, but starting this week she will be one of hundreds of volunteers at City Hall helping same-sex couples wed.
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.
California will only be the second US state after Massachusetts to allow gays to marry.
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 tomorrow night so they can start performing ceremonies the next morning.
Barring any further legal action, gay couples will be able to start marrying at 5:01pm tomorrow. Some counties plan to open their clerk’s offices after-hours that day to accommodate couples wanting to be among the first to marry, but most across the state will wait until Tuesday.
In some places, sympathetic clergy are stepping in to help out.
At the Redwood City clerk’s office on Tuesday, the minister from Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church will officiate same-sex weddings.
Officials all over the state are reporting an uptick in requests for marriage licenses. As of Friday, Orange County in the southern part of the state had more than 50 appointments scheduled for Tuesday, when it usually averages about 30 appointments per day, said Jean Pasco, the spokeswoman for the Orange County clerk-recorder’s office.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications