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Same-sex marriages performed in O.C.

Jan Mabie and Beth Syverson become the first to wed following the 9th District's lifting of state ban.

July 01, 2013|By Lauren Williams
  • The Rev. Sarah Halverson holds the official marriage license for Jan Mabie and Beth Syverson at the Santa Ana courthouse on Monday.
The Rev. Sarah Halverson holds the official marriage… (Lauren Williams,…)

This article has been corrected. See note below.

Jan Mabie and Beth Syverson sat outside the courthouse in Santa Ana about 6:30 a.m. Monday, waiting for a marriage license.

By 8 a.m., Mabie, dressed in a green shirt and slacks, and Syverson, who painted her toenails different colors of the rainbow for the occasion, were one of the first couples to wed at the Old Orange County Courthouse after the 9th District Court of Appeals lifted the state's ban on same-sex marriages last week.

The couple were accompanied by the Rev. Sarah Halverson of Fairview Community Church of Costa Mesa — who sported smiley face earrings and rainbow-colored espadrilles — Laura Kanter and Archer Altstaetter, both active in the marriage-equality movement.

Last week Syverson, who is the music and choir director at the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church, and Mabie held a religious wedding ceremony on the steps of the courthouse after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that backers of Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that prohibited same-sex marriage in California, had no standing to appeal a lower court decision overturning the ban. For now, the pair will keep their maiden names, but they hope to change their last name to Parker.

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On Monday their union became official.

"I looked up and saw the American flag and the California flag and thought, 'Finally, this is it. This is what it's about'," Halverson tearfully remarked Monday. "It's almost Independence Day and here it's LGBT independence day."

When Kanter excitedly asked the new couple if they felt different, Syverson said, "A little bit — yeah," as she affectionately rubbed her wife's shoulder.

"It's super important for our boy," Syverson said of the couple's 9-year-old son, Joey.

The courthouse was bracing for a busy day Monday morning, said Tiffany Nguyen, the deputy commissioner of marriages in Orange County.

"We're just a part of the happiness. … That's our job, right?" said Nguyen, who has been marrying couples for 23 years.

Miguel Labrego and Shawn Rea drove five hours from Arizona on Friday night for the chance to be wed in California on Monday.

While Labrego said he felt a little nauseous, he wasn't nervous.

"We went out partying last night," he explained.

Since Arizona won't recognize the marriage, he and Rea planned a commitment ceremony for November. It will feature a gray and orange palette.

In that spirit, both wore orange polo shirts with gray pants Monday.

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