Gay marriage became legal in California on Monday, June 16th at 5:01PM. And a few counties extended their office hours past 5PM on Monday to accommodate a historic marriage or two. On Tuesday, country clerks opened their doors to a flood of happy gay couples. But for members of the military, getting married would mean loosing their jobs.

The California Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage is in direct conflict with the military's policy barring gays and lesbians from serving openly. The federal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” law states that a service member “shall be separated from the Armed Forces” if he/she has “married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex.”

Gay marriage is only recognized in Massachusetts and California.

California, unlike Massachusetts, is home to thousands of military personnel. The nation's largest active-duty force – at least 120,000 sailors, Marines and soldiers - is in San Diego County.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a pro-gay group that opposes the ban, believes there are 65,000 gay and lesbian personnel serving in the Armed Forces. The SLDN says, on average 2 gay personnel are dismissed each day – 12,000 since the policy was enacted in 1993.

Groups opposing the ban have expressed concern over the effects the contradictory message of legal gay marriages unrecognized by the military may have on personnel. They point to this disparity with the law as yet another example of the dated nature of the ban.

In the end, the ban forces gay personnel to choose between a job and serving their country or recognition of loved ones.

“The marriage decision in California highlights the cruel choice placed before gay service members: service to country or recognition of family,” said SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis in a press release.

Retired Army Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Schmalz said of his painful decision, “Before my husband and I decided to marry in Massachusetts, I had to sit down and ask myself which is more important, love and marriage or my career in the U.S. Army. So I left the Army, and took with me my twenty-five years of experience, so that I could get married and start a family. It is a choice I never thought I would have to make and a choice that no American patriot should ever have to make.”

“The law places an unacceptable barrier before those who want to start families...” said Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Director of Communications Steve Ralls.

“ American who wears the uniform should have to make that choice,” said Sarvis.