Two Gridley women made Butte County history on Monday, July 1, as the first same-sex couple to be wed in Butte County after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 on Wednesday, June 26.
Sharie Rodriguez, 33, and Nanci Hernandez, 31, camped outside the Butte County Clerk’s Office the night before because they were worried there might be a line. They wanted to be the first same-sex couple in Butte County married since the resumption of same-sex marriages in California.
To their surprise, no line formed and they were the first in the door to receive their marriage license. But typical of most weddings, not everything else went so smoothly.
To start, the couple accidently locked their keys and an ID in their car. Fortunately, Sharie’s mother had A.A.A. and the couple was able to obtain the ID. By 9:15, the couple had received their marriage license and rushed over to the courthouse to be married. However, upon arriving at the courthouse in Oroville, Sharie and Nanci learned of another obstacle—Butte County had stopped performing marriages in 2008 because of budget cuts. The couple must have had luck on their side because an ordained minister happened to be there for that reason.
After Reverend Lyle A. Kargel of Paradise learned of the Court’s decision, he decided that he wanted to be a part of the historic event. Rev. Kargel is a retired minister. This was the first time he wed a same-sex couple.
News cameras filmed as Rev. Kargel wed the happy couple in front of Sharie’s mother, Denal Russell-Green, and daughter, Jacqulyn Rodriguez, in the middle of the administration building’s courtyard in the early morning of July 1.
Both took each other’s last name. Sharie now goes by Sharie Rodriguez-Hernandez, while Nanci goes by Nanci Hernandez-Rodriguez.
Nanci and Sharie met through the website craigslist about a year ago and became a couple in August of 2012. The two made the decision to make their relationship permanent a little over a month ago and purchased two rings at a flea market in Oroville for a dollar apiece. They previously set a commitment ceremony for August 24—the couple’s one-year anniversary—but after learning of the news on Saturday the couple decided they would get married that Monday.
Sharie’s mother bought the couple a hotel room in Roseville for a brief get-a-away for their honeymoon on July 4. The two went to dinner and enjoyed a fireworks show together.
Nanci and Sharie plan to use their earlier planned commitment ceremony to exchange vows in front of family and friends in a formal wedding ceremony, followed by a reception at their cabin in Berry Creek. After the ceremony, they plan to get away for a few days in a second honeymoon.
Page 2 of 2 - They would like to thank everyone that has made this possible.
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling of a lower court that Proposition 8 violated the civil rights of homosexuals in California on June 26. The Court ruled that supporters of Prop 8 lacked standing to defend the ban of same-sex marriages in California.
The Court also ruled the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. DOMA, signed by President Clinton in 1996, prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for the purpose of federal laws or programs, even if a couple was considered legally married by their home state.
Several County Clerk's offices extended their hours on Friday to issue the first same-sex marriage licenses; some even opened their offices on the weekend. Butte County’s office was closed for the day when it received the State's memo on Friday.
California is the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriages.