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Same-Sex Marriage Effective 6/28/2013

Last modified: 2/24/2014 1:01 PM

Following the action of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dissolving its stay on U.S. District Court Judge Walker’s injunction against enforcement of Proposition 8, the County of Santa Clara is now prepared to issue licenses for same sex marriages.  When the County received news of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals action late this afternoon, County Clerk-Recorder Gina Alcomendras indicated that the Clerk-Recorder’s Office would adapt its operation to meet any demand.  If couples were to be in line to apply for licenses before the normal closing time of 4:30 p.m., the Office would remain open to serve them as needed.


“We are ready to meet the needs of the community,” said Alcomendras.  “News of the decision came late today, so we expect greater demand next week.  We have set up a special line for marriage licenses that will bypass our normal queuing system.”


“The chapel doors are wide open for same-sex couples in Santa Clara County,” said President Ken Yeager, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, who officiated the weddings of the first gay and first lesbian couple on June 17, 2008.  “We are ready to meet the pent-up demand.”


In addition to the special line for marriage license applicants, the Clerk-Recorder’s office has taken a number of steps to prepare for increased demand.  Each of the 27 service windows are also able to process marriage license applications, and a majority of Clerk-Recorder employees have been deputized to perform marriages.  If demand is extremely high, community volunteers who have been deputized by the County to perform marriage ceremonies may also be brought in to help.  Marriage license applications still use the gender-neutral language of “first person” and “second person” instead of “bride” and “groom,” so forms will not need to be altered.


The County is offering a new Express Marriage Ceremony Service beginning July 1, 2013, where walk-in couples can purchase a marriage license and have their ceremony performed at the service window for an additional fee of $120.



·         Couples can apply for marriage licenses at the Clerk-Recorder’s Office - 70 W. Hedding St., 1st floor. (Free one hour parking in the West Wing parking lot at the corner of Hedding and San Pedro streets)

·         The County of Santa Clara Clerk-Recorder's Office currently performs civil marriage ceremonies officiated by deputy marriage commissioners appointed by the Clerk-Recorder. 

·         The fee for the ceremony is $80 and must be paid in person.

·         Marriage licenses can be issued the same day as the ceremony.

·         A standard Marriage License is $80; Confidential Marriage License is $83.

·         Chapel Ceremonies can be scheduled Tuesday - Friday from 10:40 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. 

·        Additionally, walk-in couples who do not want to wait for an appointment will be accommodated through the new Express Marriage Ceremony Service.  After purchasing the marriage license, they may have their ceremony performed at the service window for an additional fee of $120.  Express Marriage ceremonies can be performed weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

·         The County has one wedding chapel for marriages.  The Wedding Chapel holds 22 people and is located on the Lower Level, 70 W. Hedding St., both elevator and stair access is available.

·         To schedule an appointment to be trained as a volunteer Deputy Marriage Commissioner to perform civil marriage ceremonies onsite, call (408) 299-5688.



In 2012, the Clerk-Recorder’s Office issued 9,401 marriage licenses and officiated 3,048 marriage ceremonies. In 2008, the office issued 4,633 marriage licenses and officiated 1,470 ceremonies.


Five years ago, the California Supreme Court’s decision briefly made same-sex marriage legal in California.  June 17, 2008, was the first day that those unions were recognized.  More than 70 volunteers called and offered to serve as Deputy Marriage Commissioners. Dozens of couples married in the County Government Center that day—in the chapel, in conference rooms, in the courtyard, and in the office of President Yeager.  As a Deputy Marriage Commissioner, he had the honor of marrying the first gay and first lesbian couple that morning.  Supervisor Yeager performed 10 weddings on June 17, 2008, and nearly 50 by the end of the summer.