Sunday, May 1, 2011

You May Now Kiss "Party B"

Originally Posted on June 16, 2008

Leave it to the state of my birth to do something to piss off the rest of the country, if not half of its own citizens.

Today, the Registrar offices of all 58 counties throughout California can issue marriage license for couples of the same gender. California joins Massachusetts, Canada, Denmark and a few other places around the world where same-gender couples can legally use the term “married” as their relationship status.

With “marriage,” you get all of the state’s entitlements reserved for that status. Unfortunately, this does not apply for Federal tax laws and other Federal statutes pertaining to their definition of a married couple.

That’s OK. Good thing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t challenge the state Supreme Court’s ruling or that the number of signatures appealing to stay the decision was never met. The reason goes back to a problem the Governator pointed out in his “State of the State” speech months ago: The state budget.

Why does California’s budget mean anything to us? Well, if you take in consideration that it is running into the red and the legislature has not been able to deliver on Schwarzenegger’s call to tighten up on services throughout the state, the predicted potential windfall from gay marriage will help the state and its 58 counties get back into fiscal shape. Money talks, folks!

A marriage license for you and your current significant other is not just about the fee to file one. The anticipated windfall will come from out-of-staters wanting to get their own acclimation of their relationship, even if it’s considered illegal back home. To confirm this, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s website states that “there is no residence or citizenship status requirement.” However, the County Clerk’s office must require that both parties must be there to receive the legal documentation of their marriage…and, in the case of Los Angeles County, $140 for the experience.

What the state anticipates of not just the $140 in fees to the county registrars. It anticipates state windfalls from sales taxes. Think about it: the state can offset its fiscal woes through tax revenue from hotel rooms, rental cars, restaurants, reception halls, drinks at the bar, and clothing for that special day…especially if you forget to pack them. I’m certain there are other revenue streams that the state is anticipating from the opening of the same-gender marriage floodgates.

So, if you’re planning on getting hitched, here’s something to think about when you’re planning your California nuptials: All of the popular spots will be very, very busy. Of the 58 counties in California, I can assure you that the County Clerk offices in at least eight of those counties will be very busy.

Why not try to get in at a county where there aren’t a lot of gay folks living there? I hear that Bakersfield is lovely this time of year. Fresno? Sure, why not? You might even get your nuptials in Redding without waiting, especially you lucky people in Oregon. Think about, get married in Redding, come back across the state line and have your reception in Portland! It’s worth the drive!

In the past, I kept my opinions about same-gender marriage within a few of my closest friends. I used to think we were asking for the Prize sooner than usual. Maybe, we had to do this. I always said that if the conditions were right, then perhaps marriage would be given a chance. In California, my home state, those conditions were met. Not everyone will like it, but for those of us who waited for this moment…this is the point of no return.

Tonight, California is feeling exactly what South Africans went through when Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island.  Or, when Brown-v-The Board of Education was finally enacted in Little Rock after the governor relented. Perhaps it may have felt like the time when the people of Romania overthrew Ceausescu.

California has not gone over the deep end. It has decided to make history and to fulfill the promise the state has always given its people. So, go to California…get married…and spend lots of money! Governor Schwarzenegger thanks you!

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