MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Next week in California it may seem that florists will be snipping more stems, and bakers will be swirling more frosting than usual. Starting this coming Monday at 5:00 p.m., same-sex couples will be able to legally marry in California.
Last month, California's Supreme Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. The ruling goes into effect next week. And the state is expecting a rush of gay couples to the altar or City Hall or a scenic surf of coastline to say their vows. For many couples, this will be a repeat performance. That's the case for Leanne Waldal and Moya Watson, who join us from San Francisco.
And Leanne and Moya, first, thanks for being with us.
Ms. LEANNE WALDAL: Oh, thank you.
Ms. MOYA WATSON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
BLOCK: And you, I gather, are planning your third wedding in October.
Ms. WATSON: Yes.
Ms. WALDAL: Third time's the charm.
BLOCK: Well, tell about the first two, Leanne.
Ms. WALDAL: Well, it started with a box of chocolates that I had gotten to give to Moya for Valentine's Day, and I gave it to her early for some reasons. I don't - neither of us can remember why - on February 13, 2004. And the wrapping on the outside of the chocolates had a bunch of romantic sayings and quotes and a little marriage proposal. And it just so happened that that was when we were able to start getting married in San Francisco. And it took about 30 seconds and we decided that we would get up the next morning and put on our finest clothes and walk down the City Hall from our house and get married.
BLOCK: This is when the mayor, Gavin Newsom, was officiating marriages in San Francisco.
Ms. WALDAL: Yeah, yeah.
BLOCK: But ultimately all of those marriages were nullified.
Ms. WATSON: That's right. This is Moya. In 2004, when our marriage was invalidated, it sort of stung, but we brushed ourselves off and went down to the state building and registered as a domestic partnership. And we're happy we can do that, but it's really not the same word as marriage. You know, people don't talk about working hard to create a domestic partnership as they do talk about working to create a marriage, a family.
BLOCK: You also have a wedding certificate from Canada?
Ms. WALDAL: Yeah, yeah. We went to Canada in March of last year, and we stood out on beautiful Kitsilano Beach, on a cold sunny day in March, and got married and had a fabulous party with our friends and family and oysters and champagne, and celebrated...
Ms. WATSON: That was a beautiful time.
Ms. WALDAL: ...and then we came back home.
Ms. WATSON: It was still largely symbolic.
BLOCK: Well, you say largely symbolic, but I'm curious about this, because that marriage license from Canada is now valid in California with this court ruling, so why go ahead and have another wedding to get another license?
Ms. WALDAL: Because we never would have gone to another country to get married if we could get married in our hometown.
BLOCK: Does it feel different to you this time, Moya?
Ms. WATSON: Oh, yeah.
Ms. WALDAL: Yeah.
Ms. WATSON: For me, it definitely feels - it feels different, because at that time in Canada, we definitely wanted to be legally married somewhere, and it was beautiful that we were. But we knew when we were going through the ceremony that this as a symbol.
Ms. WALDAL: And this is Leanne. And also with Moya's parents, because they've lived around here in California all their lives, and you know, love to invite all of their friends of their generation to their children's celebrations.
BLOCK: There is a potential cloud over all of this. As you well know, Californians are going to vote on a ballot measure in November that would ban marriage between same-sex couples. And there's a lot of legal uncertainty about what would happen, what that would mean for marriages that have been performed, like yours in October. Are you worried that your marriage might be invalidated very soon after you have the wedding?
Ms. WATSON: Obviously we know about that initiative, but you know, I'm not worried about that at all. The people we know that buoy us up all around us, they really believe in fairness, and I think that the majority of Californians feel that way, so we're confident that initiative is not going to pass. I mean, of course if it does it's going to be a sad day for us, but we still believe that these attitudes are changing and gay and lesbian couples will be treated the same as everyone else.
BLOCK: I think some of the polls I've seen show that Californians are pretty much split on whether gay marriage should be legal.
Ms. WALDAL: Yeah, the polls show that. Yeah.
Ms. WATSON: We're not actually - we're not pollsters. We don't know.
Ms. WALDAL: Yeah.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. WATSON: But we do know that we feel the support from all around us. And that's what I'm counting on and that's what's important to me.
BLOCK: Are you both hearing from friends in other states who are planning to come get married in California starting next week?
Ms. WALDAL: Yes, one of my good friends from high school lives in Florida. She and her girlfriend are flying here in July to get married. I haven't seen her in a long time; it'll be fabulous.
Ms. WALDAL: My sister who lives in Washington is planning to come down with her wife and their children to have a legal marriage.
Ms. WATSON: I think it's going to be an exciting summer of weddings. We were talking about needing let's say an online Web site or a wiki or something just to plan on all the weekends.
BLOCK: Tell me what you can about the wedding that you've planned, where it will be and who's going to be there?
Ms. WALDAL: Well, let's see. We think it'll probably be around 70 to 100 people. We have picked out - oh, I don't know - 20 or 30 favorite spots around San Francisco.
(Soundbite of laughter)
BLOCK: Narrowing it down.
Ms. WALDAL: Yes, exactly. Moya's mom and I are about the same size and so we're going to see if maybe her mom's wedding dress will fit me, which would be absolutely delightful, and...
Ms. WATSON: It won't fit me, unfortunately
Ms. WALDAL: Our daughter, a pre-schooler, like most pre-school girls is over the top excited to wear yet another twirly, beautiful party dress.
Ms. WATSON: I think that my father has always dreamt about, you know, like many fathers, his little girl's wedding, and he wants to help plan it. I think he's always wanted to play "Sunrise, Sunset" at my wedding and I think now his - his and my dreams may come true.
BLOCK: Well, best of luck to you both and thanks for talking with us.
Ms. WALDAL: Thanks so much.
Ms. WATSON: Thank you so much, Melissa.
BLOCK: That's was Moya Watson and Leanne Waldal, two Californians who plan to get married in October, following the recent court decision that struck down the state's ban on same sex marriage.
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