California Begins Gay Marriages

California began its first legal gay marriages Monday at 5:01 PM, but there are still many people who hope to ban same-sex marriages at the polls in November.

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BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

MIKE PESCA, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, the Prime Directive. I'm Mike Pesca. It's Tuesday, June 17th, 2008.

As you know, the Prime Directive, also known as Starfleet General Order One in "Star Trek," states not to interfere with the internal affairs of another species. And both sides in the marriage debate occurring now in California think the other side is doing this exact thing in real life. And the reason we talk about "Star Trek" and gay marriage is that Mr. Sulu, George Takei, is getting married and will be on the show.

I was thinking about "Star Trek," great show, the original one. It got so much wrong. The names were kind of obvious. Like in the future, the Russian guy is still going to be called Mr. Chekov. The clothing, sci-fi always gets this wrong.

They take whatever popular clothing styles exist that day and extrapolate into the future and never figure that clothing's going to change so lots of miniskirts in Star Trek's version of the future, lots of jumpsuits in the '80s version of the future.

I guess, if we started making good sci-fi today, the ironic t-shirts would just be like really extra ironic in the future. But the one thing also, phasers, I mean look at now, we have tasers. And there's this huge debate, but there was no debate, a phaser - setting phasers on stun worked or not? There was no alien yelling don't phase me, bro.

But the one thing they did get right is it's one of the few sci-fi properties that's not a dystopian future. You know, it's so easy to say in the future everything will turn to doodie, but you know, "Star Trek" basically said technology's good. People get along better. Let's go to these other places and try not to interfere with them. So thumbs up for "Star Trek," as far as that goes.

So we'll be talking to George Takei about his marriage, his impending nuptials in California.

Also on the show this hour, what is next for the Internet? As with all things, except the fedora and the Irish elk, it will evolve. Actually, the Irish elk did evolve to the point where its antlers were too big for its head. Interesting fact. A fact you could find out on the Internet, where we ask, what's going to become of the Internet?

Also, our series on oil begins today. We'll look at proposed solutions to the oil crisis. All the things that could work. Some of the things that won't work at all. We will get today's headlines in just a minute. But first.

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PESCA: There were lots of cheers.

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PESCA: And a few jeers.

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PESCA: All of that at 5:01 p.m. yesterday in California. The revelers and revilers were at City Hall in San Francisco to participate in or protest the state's first legal gay marriages. John Lewis was one of the first gay men to use the opportunity.

Mr. JOHN LEWIS (San Francisco Resident): We've been together for over 21 years, and we're just so thrilled and excited finally, finally to be able to marry. We've been looking forward to this day for decades, and we're just so excited.

PESCA: Now, he and his partner, Stewart Gaffney, get to glide into marital bliss together forever or maybe just through November. A State Supreme Court ruling in May made the latest weddings possible, but California voters have the chance to reject the ruling. Gay-marriage foes have a measure on the ballot limiting marriage to between men and women.

Brian Brown is one of them, as in a gay-marriage foe. He's with the National Organization for Marriage. He says his side can win.

Mr. BRIAN BROWN (Executive Director, National Organization for Marriage): It's clear that the courts have forced same-sex marriage on the state. And people now are seeing these same-sex marriages, and it's energizing and activating our base for the upcoming vote in November.

PESCA: Even if the measure passes, the fight could go on. The proposed amendment is just 14 words long, so legal scholars differ as to how to interpret it.

And among the biggest questions, if the amendment passes, what happens to the gay couples who got married between now and November? Would their marriages be nullified, or would the state recognize those marriages?

In spite of the uncertainty, one thing is clear. Right now in California, gay couples got everything those straight - crazy straights do, formal recognized commitment, ritual ceremony, honeymoon. Oh, and after the honeymoon, lots of bickering about things big and small, less sex, and sometimes divorce, but hey, at least the toilet seat thing is basically a non-issue for same sex couples. This is the BPP patented silver lining.

Among the couples picking up marriage licenses today, George Takei, Mr. Sulu from "Star Trek." He will wed his partner, Brad Altman, in September. The real Chekov, Uhuru, and Spock will be there. We'll listen to Takei later this hour. Plus, we'll have tips on how to have a proper "Star Trek"-themed wedding, gay or straight.

You can go to npr.org throughout the day for updates on this story. Now, let's get some more of today's headlines with Korva Coleman.

BILL WOLFF: This is NPR.

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