Terry Scott House and Bennett James Norton waited until 08-08-08 to get married. Not that the couple needed the extra good luck the Chinese believe accrues to the number eight- they've been together since October 1976.
"We met when I was 24 and Terry was 29," Norton, a computer animation editor, said after the ceremony.
House and Norton were among scores of couples married on August 8, 2008, several of whom used the garden setting provided by the city of West Hollywood at Kings Road Park.
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Though it was widely believed that the city of West Hollywood would only be a "satellite" branch of the Los Angeles County Clerk's office, WeHo Assistant City Clerk Cory Schaffer said that the city is continuing to provide marriage licenses and a ceremonial wedding setting for same sex couples "with no end-date." Indeed, Schaffer noted,
LA County has added West Hollywood to their website as a branch facility. WeHo officials are now looking into expanding hours of service.
Attorney General Jerry Brown recently said that marriages officiated until the November election would remain legal, even if the antigay marriage Prop 8 ballot initiative passes. Many same sex couples have deferred marriage lest the constitutional amendment be ruled retroactive.
But for House and Norton, West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land (who officiated), and the gathering of friends, the quiet moment proved more wonderful and surprising than they anticipated.
"Terry, do you take Bennett to be your lawfully wedded husband...," Land said, as Norton suddenly burst into tears.
"I'm surprised by the emotion that welled up at the moment," Norton said later, adding that during the morning leading up to the noon ceremony he fussed about what to wear. "We've been married for a long time, really. But having our friends and the community- that acknowledgement is just so powerful."
"I'm just unexpectedly emotional," said House, the Film Liaison for the city and producer of "Get Used To It," the city-produced talk show hosted by state Sen. Sheila James Kuehl. "This is something that we never expected would happen. It's still sinking in."
Land, who has officiated at 20 ceremonies since June 17 and keeps a personal "Wedding Book" for the couples to sign, said performing the ceremonies is not becoming old hat. "Each couple is unique and each has a different story," she said. "What a privilege it is to do this."
Among the friends attending the House-Norton wedding were actress Linda Hunt and her partner of over 21 years, psychotherapist Karen Klein. House and Norton are their "oldest friends," Hunt said. They met while walking their dogs. Hunt and Klein said they plan to marry in September.
For more information on obtaining licenses from the city of West Hollywood, go to their special webpage at WeHo.org.