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Laura Hunt

A Very Special Day

Johanna Kaestner
Photography: Ben Janken

This wedding never would have happened if San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, had not been such a courageous man. I also should mention Nancy Alfaro, the city clerk, who made the necessary changes to give marriage licenses to same-sex-couples.

Valentine's Day 2004: Daniel and Frank anxiously stood in line before the entrance to San Francisco's City Hall. Daniel clutched a bouquet of irises in his hand. They were nervous. Would Joe and Dan, Franks friends from Chicago, make it for their wedding in time?

The past week had started like so many others during their 9½ year relationship.

Then, on Thursday evening, on the way home, Daniel had heard on the radio that Gavin Newsom, San Francisco's major, wanted to open City Hall, and give gay and lesbian couples a chance to get married. In the evening they discussed it. First they were not sure. Then Daniel had the persuading argument: "It is history that is unfolding in front of us; let's be part of it!"

Originally they had planned Friday should be the day. Unfortunately, as so often, Daniel had to work late. So the mayor's announcement, that City Hall would stay open all weekend, was more than welcome. On Friday night they called their families and friends and told them about their plans. Everybody was supportive. Frank's old friend Joe had promised him: "If you ever get married, I will be there," and now Joe and his friend Dan were on their way. They should have landed by now, and met Ramon, Daniels brother, who was picking them up. Shortly after 11 a.m. Frank saw them running towards the building, and together they entered City Hall.

Once inside, where they had to verify their signature, Frank felt a tap on the shoulder. It turned out to be a cameraman from CNN who asked for permission to film their ceremony. Keeping a respectful distance, he followed them to the upper level.

Then, in front of Marq and Ramon, their witnesses, under the watchful eye of the camera, they exchanged their vows. They gave each other rings, which they already had worn for several years.

At 7 p.m. that night they saw the clip from their wedding ceremony on CNN for the first time. It kept popping up each time San Francisco's same-sex weddings were the topic: from ABC Eye Witness News to the local Channel 5.

After Fox News showed the clip in Los Angeles, they got calls from Daniel's cheering family.  They even saw the clip on Spanish TV while they were on their honeymoon in Spain. Sometimes the clips were very short, but they always recognized the white shirts they had worn that day.

Reception, "yes" or "no"? Family and friends tipped the scale to the "yes" side. "When we started to look for a place, we realized we were 1½ years behind with planning. We wanted to have it on Memorial Day so that many of our out-of-town families could attend." They were lucky and got a room in one of the Victorian houses of Preservation Park. Frank's co-worker and the park's employee had recommended Blue Heron Catering.

They met a few times with Lisa, the owner, talked about food, and picked out linen and napkins. They decided on a Tapas Table, the Spanish appetizers, that can be served in larger or smaller portions. Lisa made suggestions and  included a recipe that Daniel and Frank had brought back from Spain. The table decoration was a single rose and a picture frame with a photo of the couple. Daniel knew a mariachi band that provided dashing music.

Reflecting on the past three months, would Frank and Daniel get married again? "Definitively," they said, "we did not know how much this piece of paper meant to us."

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