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.
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.
powerful words and it's a very solemn responsibility,'' said
Shields, who is volunteering on her own time.
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.
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.
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.
further legal action, gay couples will be able to start
marrying at 5:01 p.m. Monday, when a California Supreme
Court ruling legalizing gay marriages goes into
effect. 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.
Once the ruling
goes into effect, officials are required to issue
gender-neutral marriage licenses, but they are not required
to perform ceremonies.
Kern, Calaveras and Butte counties say they'll stop
performing weddings for all couples because, among other
reasons, the increased demand would overwhelm their
''We've done them
when we can,'' said Karen Varni, the clerk-recorder in
Calaveras County. ''They've been squeezed into other things,
and due to budget restraints in our county and no
actual place to do them, we're not set up to do
She said they had
considered stopping them before the May 15 court
decision, but then decided it was necessary with the
Kern County Clerk
Ann Barnett also said the increased demand for
ceremonies would be too much for her staff and pose office
security risks. She made the announcement last week
after learning she could not marry only couples of her
In some counties,
sympathetic clergy are stepping in to help out.
At the Redwood
City clerk's office Tuesday, the minister from Peninsula
Metropolitan Community Church will officiate same-sex
over the state are reporting an uptick in requests for
marriage licenses. As of Friday, Orange County 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
County reported about 35 ceremonies scheduled for Tuesday,
significantly more than it usually has, said Larry Walker,
the county's auditor-controller-recorder.
counties said so far they had not been inundated.
clerk-recorder for Sutter County, north of Sacramento,
said that by Friday evening no same-sex couples had
scheduled ceremonies next week, though a few people
have called with questions.
''This is a
fairly conservative county and we haven't had much interest
at this point,'' Johnston said.
San Mateo County
Deputy Assessor County Clerk-Recorder Theresa Rabe said
she expects the real rush will come later.
''I expect a
steady stream all summer,'' she said. (Amanda Fehd, AP)