I do…two simple words, but for Diana Luiz and Nicola Simmersbach those two words meant the world to them yesterday and changed their lives forever.
Less than little over an hour earlier they were both going about their lives, Diana washing bed sheets and Nichola at her office where she is a couple’s therapist. Then something totally unexpected happened. Diana took a quick look and noticed a posting on Facebook that said the stay in the Prop 8 case had been lifted by the Ninth Circuit and same-sex couples were free to be issued marriage licenses immediately.
Diana called Nichola who she had been in a domestic partnership with until yesterday and asked her to look at Facebook and confirm that she was reading it right. After silence, a few seconds later she heard Nicola say in a very urgent manner, “Quick get dressed I’m going to pick you up and we are going down to clerk’s office right now!”
Moments later they were both headed to the Sacramento County Clerk Recorder office downtown and were first in line to be issued the first same-sex marriage license in Sacramento County since the US Supreme Court made their decision to not hear the Prop 8 case brought to it by the “Yes on 8” campaign.
This was a huge shock to everyone because it was pretty much understood that it would take 25 days for the Ninth Circuit to lift the stay. But there it was at 3:22:01 PM an email was sent out from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit under the case name of Kristin Perry, et al v. Edmund G Brown, Jr, et al, stating, “The stay in the above matter is dissolved effective immediately.”
News of the stay being lifted went instantaneously viral across the social media world and it wasn’t long before the news media picked it up and several television news and radio news stations and print media including one from the Bay Area rushed to the clerk’s office on 8th street.
In the meantime just before Nichola and Diane started to fill out their paperwork online they realized they left their wedding rings at home. Pandemonium ensued at that point and Diana rushed home to retrieve their rings they purchased together years earlier.
Two other same sex couples had arrived as well as friends and family of Nichola and Diane from all over the region and began to fill the waiting room of the office of the clerk.
Finally, with rings safe and sound in the hands of their “best woman” and with a wedding certificate whose ink was still drying, the wedding party and about thirty members of the press moved to the small civil chapel just down the hall from the clerk’s office.
Officiating at the first same-sex wedding in Sacramento County this time around was Ellen Pontac, wife of Shelly Bailes, one of the first same-sex couples to be married in California and the very first married in Yuba County, back during the small window of time was open for same-sex couples to be married before Prop 8 was enacted.
The crowd was hushed and all you could hear was the clicking of shutters from the cameras of the media and friends and family members, all wanting to freeze a moment in history.
Ellen, longtime friends with the beaming couple began to read the words, “We are gathered here…” Then came the sniffles from certain members in the audience.
But in the end it was those two little words, “I do”, that changed their lives as well as the hearts and lives of everyone who witnessed Diana Luiz and Nicola Simmersbach’s wedding ceremony and hundreds of other couples up and down the state of California in large metropolitan cities and in small rural towns yesterday afternoon
In the coming days, weeks and months, same sex couples will apply for and receive marriage licenses. Some will have their ceremony immediately in the clerk’s chapel while others will have theirs in accepting churches or even outdoor ceremonies.
For a while, businesses that cater to weddings will be in big demand but in the long-run, things will settle down and those who think their straight marriages and families will fall apart will realize that they will go on just as they always have without the slightest change.
Nichola will go back to her practice, perhaps a little busier and Diane will get back to her wash and working in the yard, but with finally having the choice to utter the words, “I do”, life will be much better for having done so …much better for us all.
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