By: Pauline Marx, City and County of San Francisco
“License = $99. Ceremony = $75. Both = $174. Equality = Priceless.”
These are the words on a small sign hanging outside the San Francisco County Clerk’s Office this week.
San Francisco is always a great place to view the local perspective on national change. Last Wednesday’s (June 26) U.S. Supreme Court decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and declaring California Proposition 8 (which banned gay marriage in California) unconstitutional was no exception.
A crowd led by Mayor Edwin M. Lee, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, members of the Board of Supervisors and other San Francisco leaders gathered in the City Hall rotunda to hear the court decision at 7am on Wednesday. This was followed by a news conference and some smooching on the City Hall steps. On Friday afternoon at 4 pm, as I was being sworn in as a Deputy Marriage Commissioner, we received word that the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had lifted the stay on its ruling declaring the discriminatory Proposition 8 unconstitutional, clearing the way for same-sex couples to begin marrying in California and that the first wedding, that of plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, would be happening within the next hour.
The marriage ceremony took place on the Mayor’s balcony on the second floor which, if you are familiar with the building, is visible from many places in the City Hall rotunda. I could barely hear the ceremony from across the large room, but I was deeply affected by the applause directed at the brides immediately after the ceremony. The entire audience clapped, cheered and cried!
The City made the decision to keep City Hall open until 8 pm on Friday to issue marriage licenses and perform weddings and also decided to hold the building open from 9-5 on Saturday and Sunday for the same purpose.
Sunday June 30 found me at City Hall doing that part of my job that is called “other duties as assigned.” Not really true, of course, since I was entirely a volunteer. San Francisco may have been the only place issuing marriage licenses in the State of California that weekend. Between 4:30 on Friday and 5 pm on Sunday, 563 marriage licenses were issued and 469 ceremonies performed. On Sunday, 236 licenses were issued and 218 ceremonies were performed. I was honored to be able to officiate at more than 20 weddings.
The couples and their witnesses and families began lining up at 6:30 am and a 2- 3 hour wait was not unusual. But the crowd was a happy one and no one complained about the wait. After all, many people had waited years and years to have the opportunity to marry. Most of the couples had been together for a long time. Among the couples for whom I performed a ceremony, 17 had been together longer than 10 years.
Someone wisely brought multiple boxes of tissues into the hall that we were using and I quickly realized that if I did not want to hand them out from my robe during the ceremony, I needed to tell my couples to take tissues with them. People told me that they weren’t going to cry, but for the most part they took the tissues anyway. It was a good thing that they did. When people repeated the words for the optional ring exchange (I give you this ring in token and pledge of my constant faith and abiding love. With this ring, I thee wed), most of them needed to pull out the tissues. The rest reached for the tissues when I said: “By virtue of the authority vested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you spouses for life.” I have to say, that every time one of the brides or grooms cried, I cried too!
What a happy and teary day! When all was done, I left the building and was soon engulfed up by the Gay Pride Festival that was happening all around the civic center.
I asked one of the couples if I could include their photo in this column and this is what they said:
Nicole and I would be thrilled if you shared our history making ceremony details. We have waited so many years for our relationship to be legitimized, we now want to shout it from the roof tops. So you have our wholehearted endorsement and eternal gratitude the part in our wedding. So please share as you want.
Thank you again,
Stephanie and Nicole Welch
And now a public policy note…
When making a list of the things that are wrong with California, the initiative system always goes on my list (along with term limits). My arguments against the initiative process include: the unfortunate abandonment of representative government in favor of direct democracy, the likelihood of getting it a little bit wrong and not being able to amend, the likelihood of manipulation by wealthy special interests, etc. This distrust of the initiative system results in the voting slogan that we use in my family: Vote No in November!
This Supreme Court Prop 8 decision has abundant ramifications on the future of the initiative system in California and in the other states that use it.
Does this decision stifle the voice of the state voters and “give state officials the unchecked power to nullify ballot initiatives they dislike by refusing to enforce them or defend them in court”
Executive Director’s Message
By: Melissa Dixon, CAE
Happy Fourth of July! I hope you are all surviving the heat as well as possible—staying cool and hydrated. It’s been miserable here in Sacramento!
There’s not much to report for CSMFO in the month of July, but I can share that attendance at our Introduction to Government Accounting classes is up by roughly 50% compared to last year! I hope this is indicative of the economy improving—more public employees to train—but it’s also worth noting that we’ve seen an increase in non-finance personnel taking our courses. Attendance so far this year has included management analysts, deputy city managers, community development directors, planning managers and even one city council member! There’s one more Intro class scheduled so far for this year—please encourage your other department heads (and even your governing board members) to sign up for the July 19 course in Carlsbad. It really is a wonderful overview of public accounting!
The only other thing I want to mention to you is: Start thinking about how you want to get involved in CSMFO. The Nominating Committee will be meeting in a few months to put together a slate for this year’s elections; we have spots open for Board Member North, Board Member South and President-Elect (North). If you’re interested in running for any of these seats, or if you know of anyone you think should be nominated, please let me know. I’ll be keeping a list to provide to the committee.
Have a fantastic July, everyone!
CSMFO Conference Theme for 2014
Thanks to our many active members, the 2014 CSMFO Conference committee had over 44 different theme suggestions sent in for our consideration. The Committee unanimously chose “Playing the Next Round!”
The winner of the selected theme was Andrew Thompson, Revenue Supervisor from City of San Rafael. Congratulations! Andrew will be a special guest at the President’s dinner. Thanks for a great theme!
The committee is working on a unique logo based on our theme, the opening session keynote speaker, a special Thursday night event along with several outstanding pre-conference sessions. We will be providing more details in the weeks and months to come.
Webinar – “Learn Key Action Items to Implement the Affordable Care Act”
Over 470 local government professionals participated on June 26 in CSMFO’s highly-rated webinar: “How the Affordable Care Act Will Affect Your Agency” with Bill Morgan and Daniel Kopti.
If you missed the webinar or want to review and share critical action items with others in your agency, a digital audio recording and PDF of the presentation materials and polling results are available at–
www.csmfo.org/training/webinars and click on “Live Audio & Archives” to locate the session and materials. (This also is the location for recordings of other sessions. You and your team have a wealth of information and support available 24/7.)
Find out why a long-time CSMFO member shared the following comment about the June 26 webinar:
“Just wanted to thank you for putting on this webinar. It was very informative and helpful in understanding what we as an organization have to do as next steps. In fact our Human Resources Manager commented that this was the best information on the topic she has seen, and especially found the examples in the PowerPoint presentation to be helpful. She plans to put together a training session for our department heads.”
Enjoy the resources available to thrive as a local government professional.
Welcome New CSMFO Members!
- Robert Hickey, City of Gridley
- Betsy Howze, Santa Rosa, Financial Reporting Manager
- Wayne Loo, San Mateo, Senior Accountant
- Frank Luckino, City of Blythe, Finance Director
- Jim Malberg, Nevada Irrigation District, Finance Manager
- Jennifer McCullar, Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency, Finance Manager
- Tarun Narayan, Palo Alto, Senior Management Analyst
- Sea Shelton, Orange County Vector Control District, Director of Administrative Services
Central Coast Chapter Meeting
– July 11
Sacramento-Valley Chapter Meeting
– July 17
San Gabriel Valley Chapter Luncheon
– July 17
Central Valley Chapter Meeting
– July 18
CSMFO Inland Empire & CMTA Div 8 Meeting
– July 18
Channel Counties Chapter Meeting
– July 25
South Bay & Central Los Angeles CSMFO Business Meeting – July 18, 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Paul Jarvis and Peter Becker – Time Value Investments
Introduction to Government Accounting – July 10, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Ahmed Badawi
Intermediate Governmental Accounting – Aug 6, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Susan Mayer
CSMFO provides government finance professionals with numerous resources for enhancing and advancing their careers. Visit the job opportunities page of the CSMFO website for a list of current job openings.