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March 06, 2004

The Schneider-Hulse Wedding

Update: Also see Gallery presentation of additional photos!

(Sunlight on the Richmond Bridge)

March 5 dawned bright and beautiful, and even with last-minute e-mail and phone calls, extensive pantyhose issues, and a power-walk around the Miller Knox park, we were out the door by 9 a.m. (though not without checking our purses at least a dozen times to ensure we had our picture ID and our paperwork for our noon appointment).

Our first stop was rather prosaic--we delivered the Civic to our mechanic, as the car had problems that needed attention right away, and we knew we'd be busy all day. We hoofed it in our wedding finery to the El Cerrito BART (past the doll store, the car wash, and the Hotsy Totsy bar), scooting through Starbucks for caffeine and a stack of newspapers to devour en route.

We made it to City Hall by 10:45--a good 45 minutes before we said we would be there--and up walked Marsha Harris, a member of our wedding party! Apparently we weren't the only ones with big-day anxiety. The three of us went to Rite-Aid for some under-eye cream Sandy had a yen for. And why shouldn't a bride get what she needs on her special day?

We had this vision of sitting in the City Hall cafe quaffing some refreshment and quietly reading the Times, but several more members of the wedding party materialized in the lobby, so with joy we gathered a circle of friends and caught up on chatter. The Times is with us every day... good friends less often. A full hour before our appointment to fill out paperwork, we were deep in discussion with Marsha, Mark, Jackie, Marian, Fred, my sister Maia (you can see her hand), and her friend Mitch. We were soon joined by John, who with Fred took most of the ceremony photographs that day.


Just before noon, Sandy and I, with John and Fred in trail, went off in search of Room 168, where we would fill out paperwork for our license. We passed so many same-sex couples walking to and from Room 168 that when I saw a mixed-gender couple I felt a little confused. What were they doing here? Oh, right--they can marry here, too. San Francisco is simply a marrying city!

En route we encountered several other members of the wedding party, including Monique and her delightful crew of kids, and David from SFPL. (As a librarian, I keep wanting to write weeding party...). I was trying to be a limpid doe-eyed bride, but at this point, with the hour upon us, the Captain Schneider persona emerged, and I quickly directed our friends to the City Hall cafe without breaking step as I marched us toward 168. It was time to take that hill.

This was our first encounter with San Francisco County staff, and everyone was so wonderful. I had heard they had all sustained good humor even when they were processing dozens of marriages an hour. With the stream of couples slowed to seven marriages an hour, per the new procedure, they were absolutely delightful; we felt warmly ushered into the state of marriage. I have never felt better writing a check made out to the government.


Once we had filled out this paperwork, we had a marriage license good for 90 days. Given the tenuous legal environment, our plan was always to marry immediately in City Hall. The couples who wed in the first week were happy to be married on the spot, but due to the new appointment schedule, we had the opportunity to plan a little (though we kept invitations in-state due to our concern that any minute the marriages might be stopped).

It was now time for the great event! My sister Maia had brought us lovely matching wedding bouquets, but when we walked into the foyer, a volunteer noted that people from around the country were donating bouquets. Floral arrangements were piled against one wall, a colorful greeting from well-wishers everywhere.

A courtly gentleman, Bill Jones, approached us and asked us where we wanted to be married. My first thought was, "City Hall, right?" We actually had options: downstairs; on the stairs; upstairs... far too many options given that at this point my brain was one long high-pitched sound drowning out any reasoning abilities.

We decided on the stairs, and friends and family gathered around as we said our vows. We also picked up several Japanese tourists, who later congratulated us profusely and no doubt are back in Tokyo showing relatives pictures of the strange but wonderful habits of those funny Americans.


We were both in awe of what was happening. It is very hard to explain what it means to be able to marry the person you love, joined together in the eyes of society, when less than a month ago this right had seemed as remote as Pluto. Sandy and I have ties that bind beyond the power of any license or certificate. But it is very meaningful to us that in San Francisco we are able to become "spouses for life," in the language of our marriage vows, just like any other couple--which is what we are.


Two more members of the wedding party caught up with us after the ceremony, and we then proceeded to a lovely luncheon at Citizen Cake, where we dined on fancy salads and panini, and then shared a wonderful chocolate confection complete with two little brides, washed down with champagne and cider brought by our friend Monique.


Afterwards, we resumed life. We took BART back to the East Bay, learned that the Civic had racked up a steep repair bill, took our aching feet home, pulled on jeans, and went for dinner at the Hotel Mac with our friend Mark. But everywhere we went, we said, "we were married today!" And everyone--mechanics, maitre d's, friends on the street--wished us well.

Posted by kgs at March 6, 2004 07:15 PM

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Posted by: Jenny Levine at March 7, 2004 08:27 AM

Congrats to the lovely couple. Where can I send a gift?

Posted by: Steven M. Cohen at March 7, 2004 09:51 AM

Congratulations from here too...

Posted by: Walt Crawford at March 7, 2004 10:00 AM

Congratulations, Karen!

Posted by: Rachel Singer Gordon at March 7, 2004 12:59 PM

Steven, very sweet to ask--we feel the right to marry is the greatest gift we could experience--we ask anyone inclined to recognize our marriage with a gift to donate to the Human Rights Campaign, https://www.hrc.org/Template.cfm?Section=Donate , or the Lamda Legal Defense Fund, https://www.digitopia.com/lambda/membership.html

Posted by: K.G. Schneider at March 7, 2004 01:26 PM

And another post of "Congratulations".

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at March 7, 2004 02:01 PM

Really beautiful!


Posted by: Norman at March 7, 2004 05:07 PM

Milagro! Congratulations.

Posted by: Kathleen de la Pena McCook at March 7, 2004 05:59 PM

Milagro! Congratulations.

Posted by: Kathleen de la Pena McCook at March 7, 2004 05:59 PM

how wonderful, thanks for sharing some of your special day with us. Congrats and many [more] happy years together.

Posted by: jessamyn at March 7, 2004 06:00 PM

I'll have to send you some rice to throw over each other.

Posted by: Michael McGrorty at March 7, 2004 08:38 PM

Hearty congratulations!

Posted by: Thomas Dowling at March 8, 2004 06:19 AM

Congratulations! Thanks for allowing us to virtually attend through pictures and story. Now let's hope that your marriage is but among the first of many, many more across the country.

Posted by: Roy Tennant at March 8, 2004 06:56 AM

By the time I reached the picture on the stairs with the whole wedding party, my eyes were tearing up as if I'd really been there. How wonderful that you could finally wed. Congratulations to you both!

Posted by: Vicki Nesting at March 8, 2004 07:20 AM

Karen - My best to you and Sandy!!! Congrats! Donation will be made in DC to the HRC in your honor!!

Posted by: Michael Stephens at March 8, 2004 08:33 AM

I would like to echo Vicki's comment! Thank you for sharing this with us!

Posted by: Jeanne Fondrie at March 8, 2004 08:41 AM

Congrats! My co-worker Jeanne Fondrie sent me the link to your blog and I'm very happy for you both. My partner and I had our wedding in B.C. Canada, and we fully share your happiness.

Posted by: Lizz Roberts at March 8, 2004 09:09 AM

Congratulations also...nice to see some of the obstacles diminish...enjoy your week off....

Posted by: Bob Turner at March 8, 2004 11:12 AM

Oh my darlings, this is almost as good as being there, love, hugs, and glorious good wishes. May your days be long and sweet upon the earth.


Posted by: GraceAnne at March 8, 2004 12:23 PM

Congratulations ... beautiful pictures.

Posted by: Eli at March 8, 2004 04:48 PM

Bravo! Have a grand marriage and a wonderful life.

Posted by: Jay Currie at March 8, 2004 06:20 PM

Congratulations! Thank you sharing your wonderful day. (And the cake looks AMAZING.) ;)

Posted by: Sarah Holm at March 8, 2004 09:51 PM

Congratulations to you and Sandy! And thank you so much for sharing the moment with those of us hoping such opportunities aren't far away in our own states.

Posted by: Stephanie Wright at March 8, 2004 11:27 PM

Congratulations! Thank you for sharing.

Posted by: Anna at March 9, 2004 11:12 AM

Another congratulations! I hope you and Sandy have a long and happy life together. And I agree that the cake looks scrumptious!

Posted by: DeAnne Luck at March 9, 2004 02:04 PM


Mazel Tov, as we say in my language. Thanks so much for sharing your joy. All my best to you and Sandy.


Posted by: Susan Herzog at March 13, 2004 02:24 PM

Congratulations to you both! May your happiness be with you always, and may it grow larger with each passing day. Thank you for sharing your good news.

Posted by: Hank Long at March 15, 2004 09:34 PM

Virtual apple martinis for everyone! Cheers and Best Wishes to the Brides in Blue!

Posted by: Stephanie Stokes at March 15, 2004 11:40 PM

Best Wishes to both of you! Thank you for sharing this joyous moment in your life through the great story and pictures! May both of you always be as happy as you looked on that day.

Posted by: Annette Milliron at March 16, 2004 11:20 AM

Congratulations! Your joy radiates from the pictures; thank you for sharing.

Posted by: Tia Jah Wynne at March 20, 2004 06:42 AM

I'm so happy for you both. Your pictures and words made me feel a part of your beautiful celebration. Thank you for sharing.

Posted by: Barbara Stripling at March 29, 2004 01:11 PM

A belated, though no less heartfelt, Congratulations!

Posted by: Zoe Stewart-Marshall at April 13, 2004 10:09 AM

Hearty belated congratulations Karen and Sandy! Thank you for sharing the story and pictures. May you two have a long wonderful life together.

Posted by: Les Canterbury at April 13, 2004 10:28 AM

Another very hearty round of congratulations! And I second the sentiment made above -- I hope to see many more special events such as this all across the country! Best wishes for a joyous future to match this special day.

Posted by: Shawn Collins at April 13, 2004 04:32 PM

A very late congratulations as I just stumbled upon this....wishing you the very best and also wishing you'd come back to the UHLS and fix all our problems.

jen "i used to be rice" mcintosh

Posted by: Jen at April 25, 2004 01:44 PM

I'm thrilled that your dream came true!

Posted by: Christine Lind Hage at May 19, 2004 02:50 AM

Well, I must be the last person in LITA to become aware of this, but congratulations and many best wishes to you both, Karen.

Posted by: Dan Marmion at May 19, 2004 12:13 PM

Karen-- you and Sandy look beautiful in these pictures! Thanks for putting up this page and sharing. Again, congratulations!

Posted by: John DeSantis at May 24, 2004 01:53 PM