Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Monday, May 17, 2004


Yes, but … are any of these folks married yet?

New organizations, apparently intent to christen May 17 as the official start-date for same-sex marriages, are mostly burying the news of what is -- and isn't -- really happening today. Granted, what is happening is momentous – but, at least as of this writing, I have seen no reports of actual weddings.

CNN is practically breathless, with this lead:
The champagne is chilled, the cakes are frosted, and gay and lesbian couples across Massachusetts are ready to make history Monday by saying "I do."

So are they performing ceremonies? Actually, no. Here’s the “what” that should have been in the first paragraph:
At the stroke of midnight, thousands of people broke into cheers as city clerks in Cambridge issued the first marriage license applications to to gay and lesbian couples.

That’s right. They issued … applications. Not licenses. And no, they didn’t perform weddings. At least not yet. It seems there’s a catch:
Once the applications are in hand, couples will either have to wait three days, or seek a waiver of the waiting period from a judge, before they can get a license to marry. The decision on whether to grant a waiver is up to each individual judge.
There's no mention from CNN whether any such waivers have been issued.
The Washington Post manages to tell one story with the headline, yet another with the subhead, veer closer to the truth with the lead -- and then further confuse us on the matter of wiavers and waiting periods.
Gay Couples Line Up for Mass. Marriages

At Midnight, Cambridge Becomes First to Issue State-Sanctioned Licenses

After months of eager anticipation mixed with nagging worries that this day may never come, gay couples across Massachusetts and beyond converged on Cambridge on Sunday night to apply for the nation's first state-sanctioned, same-sex marriage licenses.

Oh, and about that waiting period ...

All couples planning to marry Monday must have submitted their applications, then paid a fee to waive the required three-day waiting period before picking up their licenses.

The Times isn't much better (can't get the link to work, so I'm cribbing from the print edition). Under a small head on the front page -- "The First Day to Exchange Gay Vows," the lead begins, "Gay and Lesbian couples...began applying for marriage licenses." Then, in the fourteeth paragraph of the full article (on A16), is this:
Weddings are planned for as early as Monday, with many couples intending to seek permission from judges to waive the three-day wait that is normally required between applying for a license on receiving one.

So what do we have so far, folks? Well, we have the intention, and capability to marry. And unmistakable evidence of license-related program activities.

[UPDATE: CNN has posted a new story, which includes the news we've all been waiting for: first actual vows, at 9:15 AM, for a couple that went "at a breakneck pace to fill out paperwork, get a waiver from the usual three-day waiting period, then return to city hall."]


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