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So, in my entire life before Monday, I'd been to a grand total of one wedding. On Monday, volunteering at San Francisco City Hall, I added about five hundred to that total.

It was amazing. Stunning. Overwhelmingly joyous. Helping to fulfill the dreams of over a thousand people in one day - there are no words to describe it.

I spent most of my time helping direct traffic in the line of couples who'd received their licenses and were waiting for someone to conduct their weddings. Hello, congratulations, may I check your forms, do you have a witness or can we provide one for you?, up the stairs to where the tall gentleman in the green sweater is waving, he'll direct you to a deputy marriage commissioner, next couple please! Repeat twice a minute for five hours.

I filled in as a witness when the other half-dozen volunteer witnesses were all occupied, which happened five times. The first couple I witnessed for were a lesbian couple from Minnesota who'd been together for 21 years. They heard the news Thursday night, got in their car Friday morning, drove to San Francisco, and waited in line in the rain for hours to get married. "I never thought this could happen. I know they could nullify it tomorrow, but it doesn't matter. We had this day. They can't take that away." During the ceremony they had trouble getting through the vows, they were weeping, overcome with so much joy. I was teary-eyed myself.

Standing in the middle of that hall, looking up the staircase and around the balconies, you could see the exact same scene happening ten times at any point during the day. It was unbelievable. Pent-up joy from years and years of discrimination and suppression, all being released in one place at one time.

The level of gratitude was amazing, too. People were stumbling over themselves trying to thank the volunteers for being there and helping. Thank you. No, really, thank you. You don't understand how much this means. THANK YOU. When Molly and I left, someone saw our volunteer badges, said "volunteers!", and plied us with cookies. Then someone in the crowd cried out "yay volunteers! thank you volunteers!", and the entire crowd started cheering us.

I didn't see a single anti-gay protester. Cars honking as they drove by, the crowd (and line) cheering as each newlywed couple walked out, flowers, cookies, media crews, right-to-marry placards, but not a single asshole blathering about Leviticus or marrying his dog. Amazing.

It was quite a day.

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alanj

February 2013

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