Ari Solomon, First Gay Man To Get Married From LA, Recounts His Wedding Day


Kathleen Miles is the executive editor of Noema Magazine. She can be reached on Twitter at @mileskathleen.

Ari Solomon and his partner drove from Los Angeles to Northern California in the middle of the night when they heard that Mayor Gavin Newsom was allowing gay marriages in San Francisco.

Solomon recalled the emotional day in 2004 on HuffPost Live Tuesday.

“We waited for three hours with thousands of other people. Everyone was just cheering each other on and witnessing for each other because it was so last minute. People didn’t really have a lot of family there or people that they could tell in advance,” Solomon said. “It was such an energy of love and acceptance. Afterwards, we went out for lunch in San Francisco, and the staff there brought us over glasses of champagne on the house.”

As Solomon and his partner left City Hall with their marriage license, a woman pushing her son in a stroller stopped the newlyweds. She wanted to take a picture of the pair with her son, she said, “because I want him to know, even though he’s so young, that he was here for this historic moment,” Solomon recalled.

Yet the happy couple’s marriage was annulled by the state of California six months later. They married a second time in 2008, when the California Supreme Court decided that gay marriage was going to be legal. That leaves them now, as Solomon put it, on a “marriage island” with about 28,000 other gay couples legally married in California.

The number came to a standstill in 2008, when Californians voted to ban gay marriage with Prop 8. Then in February of this year, a Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. But Prop 8 has remained in effect because gay marriage opponents appealed the court’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now, the Supreme Court could review Prop 8 and several related cases concerning the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as early as Friday. If the justices deny review of Prop 8, the circuit court’s overturning of the ban will be in place, and gay marriages in California could resume. If that happens, Los Angeles and San Francisco expect an influx of marriage license requests.

One gay couple hoping to be wed, Jerry Peterson and Rev. Roland Stringfellow of Oakland, said on HuffPost Live that they already have an officiant and ceremony preparations ready to go.

Solomon hopes that the Supreme Court will deny review of Prop 8 and instead take up DOMA so that gay couples across the country can enjoy marriage as he does.

“Schools — not that I’m advocating this — in the South had to be integrated at the point of a gun,” Solomon said. “I don’t care where you live in the United States, and I don’t care if your state’s ready. I don’t think that civil rights should be given by popular vote.”

“These are inalienable rights, and I think people should absolutely have the right to marry the person they love,” he continued.