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July 2, 2013 > Santa Clara County issuing Marriage Licenses for same-sex couples

Santa Clara County issuing Marriage Licenses for same-sex couples

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson

Following the action of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dissolving its stay on U.S. District Court Judge Walker's injunction against enforcement of Proposition 8, the County of Santa Clara is now prepared to issue licenses for same sex marriages. When the County received news of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals action on June 28, County Clerk-Recorder Gina Alcomendras indicated that the Clerk-Recorder's Office would adapt its operation to meet any demand. If couples were to be in line to apply for licenses before the normal closing time of 4:30 p.m., the Office would remain open to serve them as needed.

"We are ready to meet the needs of the community," said Alcomendras. "News of the decision came late today, so we expect greater demand next week. We have set up a special line for marriage licenses that will bypass our normal cueing system."

"The chapel doors are wide open for same-sex couples in Santa Clara County," said President Ken Yeager, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, who officiated the weddings of the first gay and first lesbian couple on June 17, 2008. "We are ready to meet the pent-up demand."

In addition to the special line for marriage license applicants, the Clerk-Recorder's office has taken a number of steps to prepare for increased demand. Each of the 27 service windows is also able to process marriage license applications, and a majority of Clerk-Recorder employees have been deputized to perform marriages. If demand is extremely high, community volunteers who have been deputized by the County to perform marriage ceremonies may also be brought in to help. Marriage license applications still use the gender-neutral language of "first person" and "second person" instead of "bride" and "groom," so forms will not need to be altered.

The County is offering a new Express Marriage Ceremony Service beginning July 1, where walk-in couples can purchase a license to have their ceremony performed at the service window for a fee of $110, plus an additional witness fee of $10.

The Process:
Couples can apply for marriage licenses at the Clerk-Recorder's Office - 70 W. Hedding St., 1st floor. (Free one hour parking in the West Wing parking lot at the corner of Hedding and San Pedro streets)

The County of Santa Clara Clerk-Recorder's Office currently performs civil marriage ceremonies officiated by deputy marriage commissioners appointed by the Clerk-Recorder. On average, 12 civil marriage ceremonies are performed on a daily basis.

The fee for the ceremony is $79 and must be paid in person before the date of the ceremony.

Marriage licenses can be issued the same day as the ceremony.

A standard Marriage License is $79; Confidential Marriage License is $83.

Ceremonies can be scheduled for weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

Beginning July 1, walk-in couples who do not want to wait for an appointment will be accommodated through the new Express Marriage Ceremony Service. They may purchase a license to have their ceremony performed at the service window for a fee of $110, plus an additional witness fee of $10.

The County has one wedding chapel for marriages, but will make two additional chapel facilities temporarily available to accommodate overflow. Up to 17 ceremonies per day could be performed at each chapel, if needed. The Wedding Chapel holds 22 people and is located on the Lower Level, 70 W. Hedding St., both elevator and stair access is available. (NOTE: The wedding chapel is in its final stages of remodeling. The ceremonies are currently at the Clerk-Recorder's "designated" chapel on the first floor.)

To schedule an appointment to be trained as a Deputy Marriage Commissioner to perform civil marriage ceremonies, call (408) 299-5688.

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