- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

SEATTLE (AP) — This left-leaning city joined the homosexual “marriage” fight yesterday, with six same-sex couples suing for the right to wed and the mayor announcing that City Hall will recognize unions of homosexual city employees with marriage licenses from elsewhere.

Mayor Greg Nickels issued an executive order requiring the city to recognize homosexual “marriages” by municipal employees.

“Seattle has often been in the forefront of protecting all its citizens, regardless of sexual orientation,” Mr. Nickels said at a news conference. He also proposed extending the city’s discrimination laws to “married” homosexual couples.

Meanwhile, six homosexual couples who applied for marriage licenses at the King County Administration Building were rejected because of a state law that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

But King County Administrator Ron Sims invited the couples to sue him and the county, explaining that he supported the couples’ efforts, but had no choice but to uphold the law.

Mr. Sims, who is black, said he remembered images from his childhood of white government officials in the South blocking blacks from entering buildings restricted to whites.

“I was not going to stand with my arms crossed and my hand up,” he said. “We do not have equal protection in this state when it comes to marriage.”

The couples applauded Mr. Sims’ remarks, then filed their complaint, which argues that the law violates the Washington Constitution’s equal-protection clause.

Rick Forcier, head of the state Christian Coalition and a critic of extending marriage licenses to same-sex couples, called Mr. Nickels’ plan a clear violation of state law.

“What he’s about to do is anarchy — taking the law into his own hands,” Mr. Forcier said. “People cannot be recognized as married in one jurisdiction and not in another.”

Mr. Nickels also proposed yesterday to extend the city’s discrimination protections in employment, housing or the use of parks or other city facilities to all such “married” couples.

If the council approves the ordinance, it also would require contractors doing business with the city to recognize homosexual “marriages” among their employees.

Elsewhere, the city of Asbury Park, N.J., started issuing “wedding” licenses to same-sex couples, with the first couple getting “married” in City Hall yesterday by Deputy Mayor James Bruno.

“As a show of support to the city’s gay community and the gay community nationwide, the city of Asbury Park has determined that it will commence the issuance of licenses to same-sex couples and the solemnization of marriage between same-sex couples, immediately, as a matter of fundamental civil and constitutional rights,” City Clerk Dawn Tomek said in a statement.

New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey told the Associated Press that his office will seek an injunction this week to stop the issuance of such “marriage” licenses.

In Portland, Ore., supporters of homosexual “marriage” won a legal battle when a judge ruled yesterday that the state’s most populous county can continue issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

The Defense of Marriage Coalition filed a lawsuit against Multnomah County last week, saying officials had violated the state’s public-meetings law by not holding public meetings before making a policy change.

But Judge Dale Koch denied a request for a preliminary injunction, ruling that the plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail under the state’s public-meeting law.

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