- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2005

A California judge yesterday ruled that it is unconstitutional for the state to deny marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

“[I]t appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners,” San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer ruled in the consolidated lawsuit filed by same-sex couples and others seeking marital rights.

Judge Kramer rejected the state’s arguments that male-female marriage embodies the traditional understanding of what marriage is.

“Simply put, same-sex marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so before,” Judge Kramer wrote.

He also rejected the state’s argument that it is acceptable to maintain traditional marriage while offering many similar rights to same-sex couples through laws recognizing domestic partnerships.

“The idea that marriagelike rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts — separate but equal,” said the judge, who was appointed to the bench by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.

Judge Kramer will hold a hearing on his ruling March 30. Appeals are expected by that time.

“We’re gratified by today’s ruling,” said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who represents the city and county of San Francisco in the lawsuit.

Last year, San Francisco officials “married” more than 4,000 same-sex couples. Although the California Supreme Court later ruled those “marriages” invalid, San Francisco officials are hoping the consolidated lawsuit will lead to legalization of same-sex “marriage” in the state.

“It’s a big victory for the effort, but hardly is this the end,” San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told KCBS radio. “It’s a long fight to the Supreme Court.”

Attorneys with Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union hailed the ruling as “legally solid.”

Proponents of traditional marriage said Judge Kramer’s ruling strikes down Proposition 22, a voter-passed initiative that says only the union of a man and a woman is recognized as a marriage in California.

The judge’s ruling is “ludicrous,” said Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Campaign for California Families and its founder Randy Thomasson in the lawsuit.

“We will continue to fight San Francisco’s attempt to gut marriage of meaning,” said Glen Lavy of the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing a group that supports Proposition 22.

“The people spoke with Proposition 22,” said Margita Thompson, spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “We have this decision today, and we will see where it ultimately leads us.”

In the Legislature, lawmakers have introduced bills to have a public vote on a constitutional marriage amendment and bills to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

This story is based on wire service reports.

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