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Gay couple weds in Colusa
It was a singluar moment – yet as low-key as the small, leafy town where it took place.
A brief civil wedding played out Tuesday on a small lawn in downtown Colusa. Two witnesses signed their names on the license before the county clerk-recorder conducted the ceremony – and then two grooms exchanged rings to complete the county’s first same-sex wedding.
“Today’s the day I dreamed would happen and never thought would come,” Eugene Garrison said as he held the hand of his new spouse, Dan Harms. “It’s the first time in my life I haven’t felt like a second-class citizen in this country.”
“What’s right in your heart, you go with it,” said Harms, a restaurant cook in the couple’s home state of Oregon.
California counties began licensing same-sex marriages June 16, a month after a divided state Supreme Court ruled denying gay couples the right to marry violated equal-rights protections. But while hundreds of unions took place in the first few weeks under the new policy, the phone remained mostly quiet at the office of Clerk-Recorder Kathleen Moran.
That changed Tuesday morning, when the couple from Merlin, Ore., who met seven months ago, arrived at the Colusa County Courthouse and received their marriage license. Then Moran presided over the short ceremony for the two men – the 62-year-old Garrison in black slacks and shirt, the 28-year-old Harms in jeans, red polo shirt and baseball cap.
The day was not only a celebration but a homecoming for Garrison, a longtime nurse who once worked at Colusa Regional Medical Center and raised five children nearby with his then-wife.
Joining the new couple as witnesses were Garrison’s daughters from his first marriage, Linda Duenas of Gridley and Mary Garrison of Marysville. But his two sons from that marriage, which ended in 1994, were absent.
“They won’t discuss this thing with me,” Garrison said philosophically, before getting a goodbye hug from Mary. “They love me; they just don’t understand it.”
Outside the courthouse, the first-of-its-kind marriage attracted little attention – which was fine to one of those present.
“It was pretty busy, just people outside going from one place to another,” said Jacqueline Sanchez, who signed the marriage license before watching the ceremony. “It was fine.”