Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Pro-family groups suffered two losses yesterday in their legal bid to have San Francisco immediately cease issuing “marriage” licenses to homosexual couples.

Judge James Warren said the city appeared to be violating state law and issued a nonbinding request that San Francisco stop issuing the licenses until a hearing he set for March 29. But the city promptly said it would ignore the request.

“We will continue to issue marriage licenses until the court rules we can no longer do so,” mayoral spokeswoman Darlene Chiu said shortly after Judge Warren’s decision demanding that the city explain its legal position next month.

City Attorney Dennis Hererra added that the city, which has issued 2,464 “marriage” licenses to homosexual couples since Thursday, was “extremely happy and gratified that a stay was not issued.”

In a separate case yesterday, one judge denied an immediate injunction against the “marriage” licenses and delayed hearing the case until Friday.

“This is municipal anarchy,” said Robert Tyler, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, which argued the case before Judge Warren on behalf of the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund.

California’s voter-passed Proposition 22 defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but San Francisco is saying the nondiscrimination clause of the state constitution trumps that.

In the other case, Judge Ronald Quidachay said he was not prepared to rule until at least Friday in the challenge filed by the Campaign for California Families.

Regardless of the rulings, the case is headed to the California Supreme Court, as both sides have promised to appeal.

Terri Carbaugh, a spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said yesterday that San Francisco’s same-sex “marriages” are “an issue that will be resolved by the courts and he’ll await a court ruling.”

She noted that during last year’s campaign, Mr. Schwarzenegger said marriage is “between a man and a woman,” and that he fully supports California’s domestic-partner laws.

Yesterday morning, lawyers with Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel, representing Randy Thomasson and the Campaign for California Families, had a hearing with San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay.

The attorneys asked the court to stop San Francisco officials from issuing “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples and declare invalid the ones already issued.

California law does not allow same-sex “marriages,” the attorneys said, citing Proposition 22, passed by voters in 2000, that says that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Mr. Herrera defended San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and County Clerk Nancy Alfaro. Mr. Newsom has said he authorized the issuing of “gender-neutral” “marriage” licenses because, in his view, it was illegal to deny them under the equal-protection clause of the California Constitution.

Judge Quidachay told the attorneys for Campaign for California Families that they had not properly informed the city or the court on the details of their lawsuit and they had to “go back to square one.”

He said the case would resume Friday and ordered all sides to meet before Friday to share information.

Three other groups — the American Civil Liberties Union for Northern California, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights — are working to intervene before Judge Warren in the case on behalf of some newly “married” homosexual couples, including Del Martin, 83, and Phyllis Lyon, 79, the first same-sex couple to be “married.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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