- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The California Supreme Court unanimously agreed yesterday to decide whether the state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” violates a constitutional ban on discrimination, though an outcome is not likely until late next year.

The justices are reviewing an October decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal, which ruled that California marriage laws do not discriminate because homosexual couples can get most rights the state confers to married couples.

Massachusetts is the only state that authorizes same-sex “marriage.” California offers domestic partnerships, similar to civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom authorized homosexual “weddings” at City Hall in 2004, but California’s justices halted the ensuing spree and voided 4,037 marriage licenses, ruling the mayor did not have authority to make marriage law.

About 20 same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco sued the state, and the case has meandered through trial and appellate courts. Had the Supreme Court not taken the case, the lower court’s decision would have stood.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the city was “extremely gratified.”

“It’s perhaps the major civil rights issue of our time,” he said.

A call to the office of Attorney General Bill Lockyer was not immediately returned.

A 1977 law and a 2000 ballot measure (which was approved by 61 percent of voters) prohibit same-sex “marriage” in California.

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