Love Prevails

Bill Rousseau hadn’t married a gay couple since 2008. But in his office at the county clerk last week, sure enough, his phone started ringing again.

Following last Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision effectively overturning Proposition 8, the gates have been reopened for Rousseau to issue licenses for and to conduct legal same-sex marriages in California. It’s something the Sonoma County clerk-recorder-assessor had been eagerly awaiting, and he’s not alone.

On Monday, the hallway of the clerk’s office teemed with couples in line when the doors opened at 8am. Not long after, Katie and Amy Evans-Reber became the first couple married—by Rousseau himself. Throughout the day, more couples wed, like Wanda and Susie Johnston of Lake County, above.

Rousseau remembers being an officiant in 2008, describing it as a celebratory time. “As the officiant, I felt very honored to be able to perform some of those services. There were couples that had been together 20, 30 years, finally getting married,” he says.

For the next couple of weeks, Rousseau predicts a near-constant stream of happy spouses-to-be. “We’ve got a couple wedding rooms, and we’re going to get some more as this thing develops,” he says. “We’ve got a couple of nice arbors at the clerk’s office that we can do for outdoor ceremonies as well. And we’re going to look for more depending on the demand.”

Same-sex couples can start the marriage process by filling out a marriage license application online through the county office’s website, where fees for licenses and ceremonies are also provided. Those rushing to the clerk’s office should remember that both parties must be present to receive a license, and for ceremonies, a witness is needed, Rousseau adds. And, yes, there may be a wait.

Sonoma County Library