- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Demand for same-sex “marriage” licenses has been so great that yesterday officials turned away hundreds of homosexual couples lined up outside City Hall, saying they simply did not have the time or resources to meet all the requests.

San Francisco authorities calculated they could process 400 licenses during special weekend hours — but Saturday they granted 600 licenses and performed 270 “weddings” by late afternoon. Then officials gave numbers to 320 couples, securing them places in line yesterday.

After quickly distributing an additional 80 numbers yesterday morning, disappointed couples lined up around the block were asked to return today.

“We’re at capacity right now,” said Mabel Teng, the official who oversees marriage licenses for city government. “We normally do about 20 to 30 couples a day. We’re doing about 50 to 60 an hour.”

Many couples stayed in line despite instructions from city officials, hoping to receive numbers for today.

“It’s a major disappointment,” said Jill Kasofsky, 40, who had lined up with Cynthia Juno, 45, at 8:15 a.m. after driving up from Los Angeles. “I’m thinking about coming back at midnight to sleep on the sidewalk. I’m sure I won’t be alone.”

Couples from even farther away said they were ready to stay in town for as long as it took.

“Mentally, we came prepared to camp out if we had to,” said Mike Fry, 43, who flew out Saturday from Minneapolis with George Hamm, 44, his partner of 20 years.

In a challenge to the law, San Francisco officials began issuing licenses to homosexuals and officiating at City Hall “marriages” Thursday. The city has gone out of its way to provide the services — City Hall is normally closed Sundays.

The decision prompted two conservative groups to press for court intervention. But Friday, a judge allowed the “weddings” to continue through the weekend.

The issue returns to court tomorrow, when judges will hear separate requests from marriage advocates to void the licenses and order the city to stop giving them out.

The two organizations argue that the licenses violate state law, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. San Francisco officials counter that they are legally binding documents that take a swipe at discrimination against same-sex couples.

By the end of yesterday, San Francisco officials expected to have inked well over 1,000 homosexual “marriage” licenses in four days.

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