Wedding Service

SF Town Hall reopens to the public with pride festivities and weddings

The front steps of San Francisco City Hall were packed Monday, with politicians and a marching band, all there to mark the start of Pride Month, days late, with a flag raising ceremony. It was standard fare: The Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band – the town’s official band – sang classics, like Abba’s “Dancing Queen”, while someone in the crowd handed out mini pride flags. and that politicians were making speeches.

But it also marked a turning point – San Francisco City Hall was finally opened to the public for the first time since shelter-in-place orders were issued in March 2020. After more than a year spent in home and on Zoom, a group had gathered in joy looking a lot to the future while acknowledging the past.

“We’re reopening,” Clair Farley, director of the city’s Office of Transgender Initiatives, told the crowd. “We always come together to celebrate pride.”

When the Mayor of London Breed stepped onto the podium, behind her were dozens of queer city officials, who she said had all helped the city weather the pandemic. She thanked Grant Colfax, a gay man and city health director, in particular. She mentioned the city’s high vaccination rate – the highest in the country. And then she linked that work to another pandemic.

“What we did here had everything to do with the challenges we faced in the 1980s,” she said, a direct reference to the HIV / AIDS pandemic that has shaped several health officials from the city (and the country).

Left: San Francisco Mayor London Breed sings with the band before raising the rainbow pride flag during a Pride Month launch celebration outside the Hotel de city ​​of San Francisco.

Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

The pandemic is not over, but the city, Breed assured the crowd, would be fully open on June 15, in time for the pride celebrations. They clapped, then she clapped, then reminded everyone that at big events it might be a good idea to “sip and mask, sip and mask”.

Pride’s board is planning a smaller-scale celebration this year, but Fred Lopez, the executive director, said his “heart was still filled with hope,” and next year he promised: ” We’ll be back on Market Street in the tens of thousands – shouting, hugging, laughing and loving.

There was a lot more talk; some mentioned new initiatives in the city – housing for aging LGBTQ seniors, a pilot program to give transgender San Franciscans guaranteed monthly incomes, and a museum to honor the city’s queer history – but most had the same message: a community of survivors had survived once again.

Breed took the mike at the end to make it all official: “I declare all of June to be SF Pride Month.” Rainbow flags fluttered above the crowd.

“Wasn’t that fun? One older man said to another as the crowd cleared.

“It was fun,” the man replied, and it was obvious he meant it.

Breed, meanwhile, made his way into the building’s rotunda for another ceremony – or four. The mayor had the honor of organizing the first four weddings at the town hall since the closure. The city had taken four couples off their waiting list and asked them if they wouldn’t mind having a very public ceremony.

Madelyn Peterson and Indira Carmona Muñoz were the first. It made sense that the first marriage of the day would be between two women. They held hands and looked into each other’s eyes as Breed’s words echoed off the walls of the bedroom.

“Where are the rings?” Race asked.

“They are on,” said one of the women.

“Well take them off and put them back on,” Breed said.

Then she made them repeat after her. “With this ring, I will marry you.”

“We have been waiting for this moment for a year and a half,” Muñoz said afterwards.

Breed would joke and chat with couples and sometimes adjust a bride’s hair or dress for the photographs they took together.

“There is no going back now,” she said as she went to sign a certificate.

“We don’t need it! Cried a bride.

Above: San Francisco Mayor London Breed officiates Perry Huang and Kathleen Li's <a class=wedding at San Francisco City Hall.”/>

Above: San Francisco Mayor London Breed officiates Perry Huang and Kathleen Li’s wedding at San Francisco City Hall.

Photos by Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

The last married couple were Hanna Teferi and Casey Blanton. They had planned to tie the knot in October, but had to cancel when Teferi was pulled away for her job as an emergency service worker with the COVID Command Center’s food coordination unit. Finally, she was in her white lace dress with crystal details.

“There have been a lot of sacrifices and losses so we are delighted to move forward and really want to honor everything that has happened,” Teferi said afterward. “We are really lucky to be here today.

Getting back to normal doesn’t happen all at once, although it may seem like that. Instead, it’s a series of steps, big and small, like raising the pride flag in person and opening City Hall to couples in love.

“Alright, now I have to get back to work,” Breed said. “Back to boring stuff.”

Ryan Kost is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter; @RyanKost

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.