It’s expected that over 100 000 couples will tie the knot following the issuing of the first same-sex marriage license in California on Monday.

Since 5pm on Monday, Californian LGBT residents have been able to apply for marriage licenses and, according to a study, approximately 50 000 of the state’s confirmed gay couples plan to marry.

The law, however, does not require couples to be residents of the state, and another 68 000 ‘out-of-state’ couples are also said to be planning to walk down the aisle.

“These are not folks who just met each other last week and said, `Let’s get married.’ These are folks who have been together in some cases for decades,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

This statement is evidenced by the marriage of octogenarians Del Martin (87) and Phyllis Lyon (83) who, after a 50 year relationship, have finally exchanged vows; one of the first same-sex couples to do so following the May 15 ruling by the California Supreme Court.

The two women are the co-founders of the first nationally recognised lesbian advocacy group, the Daughters of Bilitis, and through the years have become the unofficial ‘poster-couple’ for the gay marriage movement.

Despite legal recognition, Los Angeles church representative Cardinal Roger Mahoney has expressed the Catholic Church’s continued disdain for same-sex marriage.

Mahoney claimed that while gay couples would be treated sensitively, “the church cannot approve of redefining marriage, which has a unique place in God’s creation, joining a man and a woman in a committed relationship in order to nurture and support the new life for which marriage is intended.”

In the conservative California county of Kern, the County Clerk Ann Barnett has decided to halt any – gay or straight – civil marriage ceremonies as a result of her opposition to the legalisation of same-sex marriage. From next week, all residents in the county will have to go elsewhere to get married.

A poll released earlier in May found that the majority of Californians (over 50%) back gay marriage, but LGBT couples may risk having their marriage licenses invalidated if the anti-gay marriage voter’s initiative comes to pass in November.

Gay marriage opponents want voters to pass a constitutional amendment to restrict legal marriage to between “a man and a woman” only, overturning the California Supreme Court’s ruling.

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