Same-sex couples file to marry in California

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Dozens of same-sex couples in jeans, shorts, white dresses and the occasional military uniform filled San Francisco City Hall Saturday, no longer legally barred from obtaining marriage licenses in California.

At the same time, opponents of the weddings asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the ceremonies while they decide whether to ask the high court to reconsider.

Although a few clerk's offices around the state stayed open late on Friday after a federal appeals court removed the last obstacle, San Francisco was the only jurisdiction to hold weekend hours so same-sex couples could take advantage of their newly restored right, Clerk Karen Hong said.

A sign posted on the door of the office where a long line of couples waited to fill out applications listed the price for a license, a ceremony or both above the words "Equality = Priceless."

"We really wanted to make this happen," Hong said, adding that her whole staff and a group of volunteers came into work without having to be asked.

The timing could not have been better for California National Guard Capt. Michael Potoczniak, 38, and his partner of 10 years, Todd Saunders, 47, of El Cerrito.

Potoczniak, who joined the Guard after the military's ban on openly gay service was repealed almost two years ago, is scheduled to fly out Sunday night for a month of basic training in Texas.

"I woke up this morning, shook him awake and said, 'Let's go,' " said Potoczniak, who chose to get married in his Army uniform. "It's something that people need to see because everyone is so used to uniforms at military weddings."

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriage to return to the nation's most populous state by ruling 5-4 on Wednesday that the sponsors of California's voter-approved ban on same-sex unions lacked authority to defend the measure in court.

In a petition filed Saturday, attorneys with the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom claim that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals acted prematurely and unfairly on Friday when it allowed gay marriage to resume.

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Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Austin Nimocks said the Supreme Court's consideration of the case is not done yet because his clients still have 22 days to ask the justices to reconsider their decision.

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