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Fargo couple to wed in San Francisco

Gina Powers and Stephani Rindy of Fargo have felt married for six years. Now they see a chance to actually be married. The couple is flying to San Francisco today, where they'll join the thousands of gay and lesbian couples standing in line at Ci...

Gina Powers and Stephani Rindy of Fargo have felt married for six years. Now they see a chance to actually be married.

The couple is flying to San Francisco today, where they'll join the thousands of gay and lesbian couples standing in line at City Hall for a marriage license and wedding ceremony. They hope authorities don't stop what opponents call "municipal anarchy" before they reach the head of the line.

Powers, 33, said the trip didn't immediately occur to her and 29-year-old Rindy, even after first hearing that San Francisco's mayor was approving marriage licenses in defiance of state law.

But as the California weddings continued well into last week, a friend asked if Powers knew what was happening there.

Of course she knew, she told her friend, adding "One day, Steph and I will be able to get married."

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"One day?!" exclaimed her friend. "Today!"

When Rindy came home from work that night, Powers asked what she thought about a trip to San Francisco.

"She said, 'Let's do it,' " Powers said.

It's exciting, Rindy agreed. "But still kind of scary at the same time. I figure this was the closest we were going to get."

The response from people they know has been positive, "so supportive and congratulatory," Powers said. "I can't believe I'm living in North Dakota. I have not gotten one negative comment."

Rindy said her supervisor at Phoenix International approved a week off, even though it's a busy time of year.

"He was kind of, 'Really? Well good luck to you,' " she said.

The couple, along with Powers' 11-year-old daughter and two heterosexual friends, will stay a week in San Francisco, having found an airline-hotel bargain package on the Internet. One the friends introduced the couple six years ago when both women worked at a fence company. The other friend is a professional photographer who will shoot the event.

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If the gay weddings have been stopped by the courts before they can have theirs, Powers and Rindy say they will find someone else in San Francisco who can perform an unlicensed union ceremony.

Powers is a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, but originally from San Francisco. It's where her late parents were married, so she feels "honored" to be able to participate in the excitement in her home town, she said.

Even if successful at San Francisco City Hall, a wedding is still only symbolic in the eyes of the law. California state officials say the San Francisco gay marriages aren't legal and won't be recognized. North Dakota legislators beefed up the state's 1890 same-sex marriage ban in 1997, emphasizing that it would not recognize such unions should another state legalize them.

Powers dismisses that law as "legislating religion."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830

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