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Same-Sex Marriages To Boost Desert Economy

The California Governor and Attorney General have both filed motions calling for the resumption of same-sex weddings just days after a San Francisco judge ruled the law violates the 14th Amendment’s federal equal protections and due process.

Judge Vaughn Walkers overturned the voter-approved ballot initiative that banned gay marriage on Wednesday and Attorney General Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger each filed papers with the judge to allow same-sex couples to marry.

The judge’s decision could come down any day, and desert wedding planners and chapels are gearing up for a boost in business.

Same-sex marriage was legal in California for about four and a half months in 2008 until proposition 8 passed.

More than 18,000 same-sex couples got married during that time and many of them took place in Palm Springs.

“It was extraordinary,” said Michael Campbell-Argyll, the maitre d’ at Ingleside Inn and Melvin’s Restaurant in Palm Springs.

Campbell-Argyll said gay couples flooded to his venue, “to book rooms, book food, parties, the chapel, and everything else with it.”

He said knowing time to get married was limited back then, gay couples rushed to the alter.

According to Campbell-Argyll, 12 to 15 same-sex marriages were performed at his venue per week in 2008.

“Two wonderful ladies both (80-years-old), getting married, because it was such a short time, you had to get it in,” he said.

Campbell-Argyll is hoping that since a federal judge knocked proposition 8 down, business will boom.

The same goes for the Enchanted Wedding Chapel of Palm Springs.

“We still do them. They’re just not legal,” said Pastor Norman De Armond.

He said no same-sex couples have approached him about getting married since the ruling came down.

“There really wasn’t a rush persay,” he said.

But he’s hoping that will change once Judge Vaughn Walker lifts a stay on his decision, allowing same-sex couples to get married again, even during the appeals process.

“It’s not right to do things (because) someone’s morals are different than yours,” said De Armond.

Tell that to Melissa Hatcher, the lone prop 8 supporter to show up at a pro-gay marriage rally in Palm Springs on Wednesday.

“It was on the ballot,” she said. “It’s been on the ballot twice. It was voted no. This democracy.”

Still, that rally went on.

Local businesses are now rallying the judge to let the marriages go on.

“It seemed to go against the vote,” said De Armond. But… a lot of things go against the popular will.”

Both the Riverside and San Bernardino County Clerk’s offices said they are prepared to start marrying same-sex couples.

They are just waiting on the judge to lift his stay, which could happen anyday now.

KESQ News Team

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