A steady stream of same-sex couples started showing up Monday morning at Santa Barbara’s storybook County Courthouse to apply for marriage licenses in response to last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Pictured from right, Amanda Wilkerson and Laura McElhinney were not the first same-sex couple to sign on the dotted line, but the third. “It’s a very big deal for us,” said Wilkerson of the court ruling. “A little bit of validation goes a long way.” While the Supreme Court did not rule on gay marriage per se, it struck down Prop. 8 — the statewide initiative passed in 2008 — which changed the definition of marriage in California’s Constitution to exclude nontraditional marriages.
A couple who identified themselves as Alex and Robert also filed the paperwork early Monday morning. “It’s a great victory,” said Alex. “We’ve been together eight years, and finally we’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. We are no different than anyone else.” Commenting on the experience of filling out the county application forms, he stated, “Actually doing it was very intense. It’s not like a dream; it’s actually happening, and we’re doing it.” County Clerk Joe Holland — whose offices dispenses marriage licenses — said it was both “fun” and “exciting” to be involved. And as to when, where, and how Wilkerson and McIlhenney will actually tie the knot, Wilkerson would say only — but with a big grin — “It’s a secret.”