- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 21, 2004

A superior court judge yesterday declined to stop San Francisco from granting “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples, suggesting the rights of homosexual couples outweigh California’s voter-approved law that defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

Judge Ronald Evans Quidachay said the pro-family group seeking an injunction to stop the onslaught of homosexual “weddings” failed to show irreparable harm was being done, but he agreed to hear the Campaign for California Families’ argument that the city is violating state law at a later date.

“If the court has to weigh rights here, on the one hand you are talking about voting rights, and on the other you are talking about equal rights,” Judge Quidachay said during a hearing yesterday.

The judge consolidated the Campaign for California Families’ lawsuit against the city with one filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, and told lawyers for both sides to work out between themselves when the next hearing would be held. The ADF’s effort to halt the “marriages” was denied in a separate case Tuesday.

Around 3,000 same-sex “marriages” have been performed by San Francisco officials since Mayor Gavin Newsom lifted a ban on homosexual “marriages” last week.

Meanwhile, a county clerk in New Mexico yesterday issued “marriage” licenses to several dozen homosexual couples.

“No county clerk should issue a marriage license to same-sex couples because those licenses would be invalid under current law,” New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid said in a letter to legislators yesterday.

A spokeswoman said Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson was opposed to same-sex “marriage.”

“The governor has always been a champion for human rights. He supports equal rights and opposes all forms of discrimination. However, he is opposed to same-sex marriage,” said Marsha Catron.

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger strengthened his opposition to same-sex “marriage.”

“The people of California spoke on the issue of same-sex marriage when Prop. 22 was passed overwhelmingly in 2000,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said, referring to the ballot initiative that says that only marriages of one man to one woman are valid in California.

“I will abide by the oath I took when I was sworn in to uphold California’s laws,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “The marriage certificates submitted to the Department of Health Services by the city and county of San Francisco fail to meet legal standards. [California Attorney General Bill Lockyer] has assured me that he will vigorously defend the constitutionality of the law in the case brought against the state by San Francisco.”

Mathew Staver, a lawyer representing the Campaign for California Families, said he believes the court ultimately will find that Mr. Newsom acted illegally when he started the process last week.

“He can’t decide to grant same-sex marriage licenses any more than he can declare war against a foreign country,” Mr. Staver said.

But Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart said the failure of conservative opponents to win emergency injunctions demonstrates that the city has a strong case.

Mr. Newsom remained defiant before the ruling of the judge, who is elected, officiating at the “wedding” of one of California’s most prominent lesbian politicians inside mayoral offices at City Hall.

A crowd of politicians and lawyers celebrated that “wedding” as other homosexuals prepared to join the more than 3,000 same-sex couples allowed to “marry” so far.

About 25 homosexual “marriage” protesters later blocked the door of the county clerk’s office, lying down in front of the line and singing religious songs. Homosexuals responded by belting out “The Star-Spangled Banner” until sheriff’s deputies escorted the protesters out. No arrests were made.

Most Americans remain opposed to same-sex “marriage.” A poll released yesterday indicated that 50 percent of Californians remain opposed. In the San Francisco Bay area, 58 percent of all respondents support homosexual “marriage,” according to the Public Policy Institute of California poll.

Mr. Lockyer released a statement Thursday saying that while he personally supports the extension of equal rights to same-sex couples, “state law prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages,” and it is “the duty of my office to defend that law.”

In New Mexico yesterday, Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap issued “marriage” licenses to about 40 homosexual couples.

Miss Dunlap explained that County Attorney David Mathews advised her that state marriage law was not clear on who could marry. “This has nothing to do with politics or morals,” Miss Dunlap said. “If there are no legal grounds that say [same-sex ‘marriage’] should be prohibited, I can’t withhold it. This office won’t say no until shown it’s not permissible.”

New Mexico’s marriage law “is clear — it’s not ambiguous — and it does delineate what marriage is,” said New Mexico state Rep. Dan Foley, a Republican. “For a low-level county clerk to impose her will is unprecedented legally and, I think, in our country,” he said.

“Same-sex marriage fires” will keep “popping up all across the country” until Congress passes legislation to define marriage in the U.S. Constitution, said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council. “We cannot permit a few states and cities to force same-sex marriage on the rest of America, especially since a majority of Americans oppose it and two-thirds of the states have passed laws against it,” he said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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