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The Los Angeles Times

Gay Marriages Set to Begin In Calif.; Progress For New York

Andrew Blankstein and J.P. Renaud

LOS ANGELES - California counties are authorized to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning June 17, according to a memo sent out yesterday by state officials.0529 04 1

Addressed to all county clerks and recorders, the memo from the state Office of Vital Records says the date was chosen because it follows the deadline for the California Supreme Court to decide whether to stay its ruling.

"The information we received today will enable us to put together and finalize an implementation plan and to get the word out, so people know what to expect," said Dean Logan, Los Angeles county clerk.

New marriage license forms will have lines for "Party A" and "Party B" instead of bride and groom, according to the state memo.

Logan said he will meet this week with an advisory group of gay and lesbian community leaders to discuss how to issue licenses quickly and safely. Already, West Hollywood officials have asked that the county clerk open a satellite office there.

Meanwhile, Governor David A. Paterson of New York has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, such as Massachusetts, California, and Canada, The New York Times reported today.

In a directive issued on May 14, the governor's legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the agencies that gay couples married elsewhere "should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union," the Times said.

The revisions are most likely to involve as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses, according to the Times.

The move, which Paterson also mentioned in a videotaped message given to gay community leaders at a dinner on May 17, was viewed by people on both sides of the issue as a major step toward legalizing same-sex unions in the state.

"Very shortly, there will be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, and probably thousands and thousands and thousands of gay people who have their marriages recognized by the state," said Daniel O'Donnell, a Democrat assemblyman who represents the Upper West Side of Manhattan and has pushed for legalization of gay unions.

Massachusetts and California are the only states that have legalized gay marriage, while others, including New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Vermont, allow civil unions. Forty-one states have laws limiting marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Legal specialists said Paterson's decision would make New York the only state that does not allow gay marriage but fully recognizes same-sex unions entered into elsewhere, according to the Times.

In California, Logan has said he will consider extending hours at county offices and recruiting more volunteers to officiate at marriages. And county supervisors already have asked the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Office of Public Safety, which protects county buildings, to provide extra security during the first few weeks that the marriages are permitted.

"We expect quite a bit of activity, and we want to do as much advance prep work as we can to ensure a smooth and orderly process," Logan said.

© 2008 The Los Angeles Times

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