six months ago tomorrow we were married in san francisco. yesterday, thanks to the california supreme court, we were unmarried. our baby girl is due to arrive in just over a week. our lawyer told us to run, not walk, down to register as domestic partners should our marriages become invalidated. we spent an excruciating and ultimately fruitless few hours today, nearly as much time as we spent getting married that valentine’s day, trying to second-class our union by registering as domestic partners. if you feel supportive, read the whole bloody sad tale below. if you do not, you’re not welcome on this page.
first, we consulted the secretary of state’s web site to learn how to become domestic partners. there’s a PDF to download at that link which needs to notarized and then you can take it to one of the regional offices to expedite your registration. sounds easy, if not unceremonious. but there’s a really funny, sad thing about that last page. yesterday, i copied the following words from that page into an email to leanne:
Checks, money orders, cash or credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) are accepted at the San Francisco regional office
today, i notice a change, with the following paragraph appearing instead (could it be that someone complained at the office today that the web site was wrong?):
Fees collected at the regional office locations may be made by check, money order or credit card (Visa or Mastercard). Cash will not be accepted at these locations.
actually, i can provide even more crucial information: apparently, you can’t file something via credit card either — you have to use a check. but i’m getting hours ahead of myself.
we left home around 11a with our form and set out to 601 van ness, where according to my research the UPS store, only two blocks from the state building, has a notary. i briefly deliberated with leanne about taking muni, since i’m 39 weeks pregnant, and i forgot to bring a bottle of water. but it was a nice day for a walk… and you can always buy water. we walked by city hall and both of us remembered waiting in line for five hours six months ago, which we were happy to do on that special day. we got to the UPS store around 11:30-ish. apparently, we had just missed the notary though, and they wouldn’t be back for another 45 minutes.
i was conscious leanne still had work to do today and i was already a little tired and disappointed, but we managed to find a workaround by calling the secretary of state and asking for the next closest notary. we simply had to go to room 168 back in city hall for notary services, the person told us.
we didn’t remember until we got there that room 168 was the room in which we started our official marriage procedure six months ago. we weren’t prepared for how emotional we felt when we saw men and women dressed up in tuxedos and bridal gowns on their wedding day. we also struck out with the notarization: the don’t have a notary at room 168 in city hall anymore. write that down.
by now i was a little more exhausted, and starting to withdraw. but we only had to go across the street to the courthouse, floor 2, to get our form notarized! so the end was approaching…
it was noon by the time we got up to floor two: the notary services at the courthouse close at 11:30, until 2p.
i felt thirsty and dizzy and we both wanted to cry. we decided to call the UPS store to find out if their notary had returned. in a half hour, we were told. so we walked back to 601 van ness and got me some water (actually, i forgot to get water i was so tired by then) and whiled away a half hour at opera plaza and in a clean well lighted place for books. i was tired of standing and walking, but i could perch on a bench over the cookbooks…
by one pm it was more than a half hour later, so we went back to the UPS store. no notary: well, he’s off at immigration or something — but he should be back by two! note to selves: shouldn’t they have told us that before? i was trying not to get discouraged but it was too late. we were trying to downgrade our relationship and our family, and even at that, all the doors were closing on us this friday the 13th.
leanne called elizabeth who searched the web for the next closest notary. up on post street, a half mile away. i was tripping over my feet by now, so we opted for muni up the street. as joyous as muni always is. crowded and dangerous for the balance-impaired. but within another half hour or so we were ultimately successful and happy that we surreptitiously found a gay notary waiting for us in his office, happy to help. we felt a little better… i decided that, with a doughnut, i could walk back down to the state building where we would ultimately get the registration done at last.
in the state building, there are two sets of elevators separated by the lobby. one goes up to the first half of the floors, and one goes up to the second half. we got in the wrong one at first — then got in the right one for the 14th floor. with my bladder the size of a pea, of course i had to pee. by the time we got to the 14th floor, we looked for the restroom but a woman told us the public restrooms were on the second floor – we’d have to go back all the way on the second elevator and up the first one – and i was so tired that i protested and said ‘at 9 months pregnant and paying for this building with my CA taxes, i should be able to use your restrooms on this floor’ — she seemed to imply this was a real hassle at the same time some guy walked up who seemed more offering to easily unlock a restroom for me — but i was already down the hall ready to get the whole bloody thing over with.
kevin shelley’s secretary of state office waiting room is a stinky, unceremonious, crowded, plain waiting room. not a great place for a happy downgrading of the union of a relationship. there were five people in line ahead of us standing and sitting in stale air doing various corporate things at the window (i think the title of the door has to do with corporations – a fine place to register a relationship, right?). we managed to commandeer a couch and i attempted to breathe and subvert my bladder for the next half hour or so while the line virtually stood still.
when the line started to move again, i heard someone be told that cash was not accepted. having researched the web site in advance, we had purposely left our checkbooks at home, but we also had credit cards. i launched up past the waiting line to the window to verify what i had just heard: indeed, no cash taken, but credit cards are ok — ok, i thought. we are safe. the woman tried to call me back, but i couldn’t hoist me and the girl and the bladder back up out of the couch again. leanne went for the final, tragic news. if you are FILING something, you have to have a check – credit cards aren’t accepted either.
we were tired. we had spent over three hours running around when all i wanted to be doing was lying on my left side. we were turned away from three different notaries, four different times, and persevered, yet at the last possible mile we couldn’t make it after all. this was too much to bear in the end, given that what we were trying to do was officially downgrade our relationship and any legal rights just before our baby’s born. i guess we’ll have to try again on monday.