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Led by Ellen DeGeneres, gays plan California weddings

Los Angeles - Led by talk-show host Ellen De Generes, same sex couples throughout California began planning their weddings Friday, a day after the state supreme court ruled that banning gay marriages was unconstitutional.

DeGeneres, 50, announced her plans to wed girlfriend Portia de Rossi, 35, during a taping of her show and was applauded by audience members, the person close to the production said.

However, since the court ruling takes effect only in 30 days, no gays weddings will take place in California till June 16.

Still, registry offices reported long lines of same sex couples applying for marriage licenses. The delay in implementing the ruling means couples will have to wait, but in the San Francisco County clerk's office, couples were allowed to make appointments starting June 16.

'It's like we're not second-class citizens in California anymore,' said Kris Hill who booked an 8:15 am time slot on June 16 to marry Karen Stodgill. 'It's like we get to drink at the same water fountain now.

But they might have to reschedule if the matter isn't worked out by then.

By then, the state will have revised traditional marriage licenses which now have spaces for the 'bride' and 'groom.' It's unclear whether the office will create a gender-neutral form for all couples, a separate form for same-sex couples, or stick with the current format.

'We're taking a look at all of that now,' said Suanne Buggy, spokeswoman for the state office. 'We are evaluating the steps needed to comply with the court's ruling, and we will be sending guidance out to the counties.'

The court's decision could be overturned in November, when Californians are likely to vote on a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. If voters approve the measure, it will supersede Thursday's decision.

Opponents of gay marriage also vowed to fight the ruling. A group called Liberty Counsel said it would ask the justices to stay its effect until after the November election.

'The California Supreme Court has defied logic, undermined the will of the people and weakened our future,' said Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel's founder and chief attorney. 'This decision will ignite California voters to amend their state constitution to protect marriage and prevent judges from wrecking marriage.'

Glen Lavy of Alliance Defense Fund, which represented other opponents of same-sex marriage, said the court's decision 'clearly demonstrates that marriage is not ultimately safe from tampering by activists and others in government until the voters have amended the Constitution.'

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