Thursday, February 19, 2004

The California state agency that records marriages said yesterday that forms that have been altered, which San Francisco has done on its homosexual “marriage” licenses, will not be registered.

California has a standard application form for marriage licenses, “and if it has been altered in any way, then it will not be registered and recorded. It will be sent back to the county of origin,” said Nicole Evans, spokeswoman for Kim Belshe, the California Health and Human Services secretary.

The more than 2,600 homosexual couples who have been “married” since last week with the help of San Francisco city and county officials have been crossing out “groom” and “bride” as printed on the standard application and writing in phrases such as “Applicant #1” and “Applicant #2” or “spouses for life.”

None of these forms will be accepted, Ms. Evans said yesterday.

“We have to follow the law when we process these forms. It’s part of public statute, so we are following state law in the way we record and register marriages,” she said, adding that, to her knowledge, the state agency hasn’t received any same-sex “marriage” forms yet.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who orchestrated the same-sex “marriage” spree, could not be reached for comment.

However, San Francisco City Assessor Mabel Teng told the Sacramento Bee that altering the documents to make them gender-neutral had been approved by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and that she didn’t think the state could invalidate the documents based on those changes.

A spokesman for Mr. Herrera’s office said yesterday that “if and when” marriage forms are returned, “the city attorney will evaluate his options about how to proceed, but at this time, it is premature to speculate on what those options are or what he may be doing.”

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who generally supports homosexual rights, criticized San Francisco officials for disobeying state law.

“I support all of California’s existing laws that provide domestic-partnership benefits and protections,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in a statement released late Tuesday. “However, Californians spoke on the issue of same-sex marriage when they overwhelmingly approved California’s law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

“I support that law and encourage San Francisco officials to obey that law. The courts should act quickly to resolve this matter,” the governor said.

Meanwhile, a traditional-values group is scheduled to be in court tomorrow to again ask the judge to stop San Francisco officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“What’s happening is not only a violation of civil law, but a violation of criminal law as well,” said Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, which is representing the Campaign for California Families.

State law is very clear, said Randy Thomasson, executive director of Campaign for California Families.

“[I]ssuing invalid marriage certificates and officiating at unlawful weddings is a misdemeanor and punishable with fines and jail time,” the group said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Thomasson’s group and its attorneys asked Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay to issue a restraining order for San Francisco officials. The judge instead asked all the parties in the case to share information and appear before him tomorrow.

Also on Tuesday, Superior Court Judge James L. Warren heard arguments on a separate but similar lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund. Judge Warren issued a nonbinding “cease and desist” order, essentially giving San Francisco officials the choice to comply or return to court on March 29.

San Francisco officials said they would continue issuing marriage licenses, and scores of homosexual couples applied for licenses yesterday.

Earlier in the week, Liberty Counsel filed legal papers with the California Court of Appeal in San Francisco, but those were withdrawn, Mr. Staver said, to keep the case before the lower-court judge.

Attorneys for homosexual rights groups said the Superior Court judges’ rulings demonstrated that public concerns about same-sex “marriage” licenses are exaggerated.

“The courts see that there’s no need to stop what’s happening in San Francisco right now. Clearly, there’s no emergency here, and nobody is being harmed by these marriages,” said Jon Davidson, an attorney with Lambda Legal.

Mr. Davidson promised that his legal group “will be back in court in the weeks and months ahead to preserve these marriages and make sure every couple who wants and needs the protections that a marriage license provides will be able to get one.”

Mr. Newsom said his actions are based on his belief that the state constitution forbids him to discriminate against same-sex couples — if homosexual couples wish to “marry,” he should make sure they can.

Traditional-values groups say Mr. Newsom’s actions are “anarchy” and an affront to the people of California, who passed Proposition 22, which says that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California.

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