On the first full day of same-sex weddings in California, what was notable about the scene at West Hollywood Park was what it wasn't.
There were elements of just what you would expect from any event signifying a cultural flashpoint: Protesters waved pickets condemning gay marriage and homosexuality in general. One man in a devil mask taunted those waiting in line to get marriage licenses, while two men dressed as flying nuns made their way through the crowd, congratulating the couples.
Yet even with a media horde to capture it all, it was not quite a carnival. At least in the morning, there was an understated, classy quality to it all, and that was perhaps best exemplified by a couple among the first to get their licenses, George Takei and his partner, Brad Altman.
"It feels glorious," said Takei, who played Sulu on "Star Trek," holding his license.
"I am the happiest guy in the world," Altman said. "I get to be married to George Takei."
Dressed in suits sans ties, the couple plan to be married in September at the Japanese-American Museum in downtown Los Angeles, forgoing what is to be a day of weddings at West Hollywood Park underneath a collection of white tents.
"Now it has meaning," Takei explained to reporters. "We are going to be legitimately married in California."
Altman couldn't resist a sound byte: "I am extremely optimistic that George and my marriage will live on and prosper far beyond November."
They were all smiles and obviously joyous. But they weren't jumping for joy. They were well-prepared for the media glare, ready to become celebrity spokesmen for gay unions, at least for today. Every time Takei talked, I was reminded of Sulu, signaling, in a calm and collected, non-emotive voice, some kind of danger to Captain Kirk.
In that same tone, Takei took note of the protesters, saying that "they need to equally respect the diversity in California."
"If they want respect, they have to be respectful, and they are being disrespectful," he said, although acknowledging they still had a right to be there.
"They cannot put their personal religious beliefs on us and write it into law."
Then a West Hollywood official pulled them away from the park, from the throng that included the gay press and local media and ABC News, for a sit-down interview. The protesters, too, had left, at least momentarily, and the line to get licenses started to look like, well, just a line. I ran into one couple who were getting married again, having seen them in San Francisco four years ago. The big difference: Their baby is now a young tyke.
"There is nothing extraordinary," Takei said. "We are just like John and Mary. We are just part of the diversity of America."
Originally published on Variety's politics and entertainment Website, Wilshire & Washington.