Couple: David H. & Arturo B.
Married At: San Francisco, CA
Date Married: February 16th, 2004
Where They Live: California
Our Wedding Story:
It was a cold, windy and rainy day on Monday, February 16, 2004. We arrived at City Hall at 7:30 a.m. and the line went around City Hall for three blocks. There were over 450 couples ahead of us.
Soon after getting in line, ordinary citizens (who we've turned to calling them "Angels") started coming by with jugs of coffee for people standing in line. Before long, Angels were coming by with all sorts of things like bottled water, donuts, bagels, sodas, candy. And these Angels didn't want anything in return, their only purpose was just to make our wait as pleasant as possible. We even saw a senior citizen couple with boxes of donuts for us. Every time these Angels would come around, everyone would get choked up and the tears would start rolling down faces. We just couldn't believe the love we were getting from total strangers, for just standing in line to get married.
As we turned the corner onto the second block, a young woman (another Angel) came by with a bag full of brand new socks. "Dry socks," she shouted. "Does anyone need dry socks?" She wasn't asking for money. She was giving them away.
It was a little after noon when a straight couple came by with boxes of pizza. It was just what my stomach needed. A man in line behind us asked them if an organization had paid for all the pizza. The woman replied, "No, I paid for them." The man tried to hand her a $20 bill, but she wouldn't take it. Instead she said that this was their way of being a part of this.
If that wasn't enough, another straight couple (more Angels) came by with their two young daughters. The little girls were handing roses to people who didn't have flowers. Arturo thanked the father and he replied, "I'm not gay," he said to Arturo, "but what you are doing is historic. I feel awful to have been part of an ignorant majority who failed to see the sincerity of your love. Handing you these flowers is the least I can do to ask for your forgiveness." I don't really need to tell you that the tears were flowing.
It was about 1:30 p.m. when we finally madeit to the doors of City Hall. Upon entering the building, we filled out forms, stood in many lines. After almost two hours inside, we reached the rotunda of City Hall where 50 or more Justices of the Peace were marrying same-sex couples all over the large room. We were sent to the top of a huge staircase where a woman (and lesbian!) would perform our ceremony. We stood there holding the rose the little girl had given us. As soon as we started, Arturo lost it. He started sobbing almost out of control. I was crying and our Justice of the Peace was crying.
After that, we were told to go stand in one last line to have our marriage recorded and given a copy of our license. As we stood in line, volunteers came with sandwiches. They said they were courtesy of Mayor Gavin Newsom. We were really moved by this. The woman said, "It's easier for us to feed you than to clean you up off the floor. We know you've waited in line a long time today and this is the least we can do." It's not easy to eat a sandwich while walking down a staircase with tears in your eyes.
We waited and a city official called our names. There it was, our marriage license. I can honestly tell you that Arturo and I never realized that we could actually have it so soon. We knew that there was a large crowd outside the front doors of City Hall, and that they were cheering the couples leaving with their licenses. TV crews and photographers were out there, too. We knew this was coming. It was 4:30 p.m. It had been nine hours since we had started standing in line.
The roar of the crowd was amazing as we walked out the door. I was holding our license in my hand and holding it up for the whole world to see. We were both smiling from ear-to-ear. We went to kiss and someone threw rose pedals up in the air over us. And then someone handed us plates that had a slice of wedding cake. It felt like we were at the Academy Awards or something. We walked down the stairs and into a sea of cheering people who parted like the red sea. People kept telling us congratulations as we walked through the crowd. There was even a woman stuffing Valentine's Day candy into our coat pockets. We reached the end of the crowd at the street, and I looked back to see the crowd going wild for the next couple.
We watched couples come out for a little bit. There was a lesbian couple who came out with their children. Their children had signs that said, "We love our two mommies!" And with that, the day couldn't get any better. As we walked to our car, we gave one of our wedding cake slices to a homeless man who was watching the festivities.