Same-sex ceremonies start in the Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

Last week's Supreme Court and California Court decisions cleared the way for same- sex marriage. It is a day many same-sex couples in Fresno County have been waiting for, a day where they can legally get married..

"We got here at 4:30. We just wanted to make sure we kind of beat the heat and were hoping to beat the crowd and we did both," said newlywed Vern Bias.

Bias and his spouse Pablo were the first couple to be issued a marriage license in Fresno County. Dozens of other couples also lined up, some who said they never thought they would see this day in their lifetime.

"Why wait any longer. We've been together 16 years, we don't need to wait any longer to acquire the rights that we now have the rights to have. So it was lets do it now, said newlywed Rio Waller.

Some couples celebrated with that legal piece of paper in hand. Others exchanged vows in Downtown Fresno. For Mike Huls and Conrad Braganza the Supreme Court's ruling not only allowed them to get legally married, but also to begin the process of naturalization. Braganza is originally from India.

" This just opens up the door for us to move forward and for me to be naturalized with mike," said newlywed Conrad Braganza.

The Fresno County Clerk's Office issued about a dozen marriage licenses within the first hour. Staff members say they will be ready for whatever crowds come today and through the week.

In the North Valley Merced county prepared for a big turnout, but did not get one. Staff members set up extra chairs and even a waiting room for members of the wedding party.But the clerk's office only issued two licenses Monday morning.

Officials performed one ceremony in a small room at the county administration building. They are expecting at least a few more same sex couples later this week.

"We have had a couple of phone calls inquiring about if we are issuing the licenses or performing the ceremonies, and we are doing both," said Merced County Clerk Barbara Levey.

The Merced County Clerks office is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

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