Brown has directed his Department of Public Health, which oversees marriage licenses, birth and death certificates and other such documents, to tell local officials the licenses should be issued as soon as a federal appeals court lifts a ruling that was temporarily making same-sex unions illegal.
The temporary ban is expected to be lifted now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a lower-court ruling which held that Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure prohibiting gay marriage, is unconstitutional.
“I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state’s counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted,” Brown said in a statement.
County clerks say they’re prepared.
“We’re pretty much ready to go,” said Cathy Darling Allen, the clerk for Shasta County and the head of the California Assn. of Clerks and Election officials. “In 2008, we had some assistance from the state Department of Public Health in making marriage license forms gender neutral. We continue to use those forms today. So the mechanics of the process are ready to go.”
Darling Allen said she expects that it will take some time before same-sex marriages are able to proceed. “My understanding is we’ll have some kind of a waiting period in terms of start date,” she said. “Twenty-five to 30 days is what I’ve been told, but that feels kind of speculative. But it’s not going to be Friday. It’s going to be at some point in the future.”