- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2008

The California Supreme Court should follow the example of other courts and delay implementation of its landmark gay marriage ruling rather than let it go into effect next month, lawyers for traditional values groups said yesterday.

“The prudent course would be for the court to stay its decision” until after the November election, Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney Glen Lavy said at a briefing sponsored by the Family Research Council and the Family Research Council Action.

A delay would be consistent with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which gave state leaders 180 days to comply with its 2003 gay marriage ruling, and with Vermont’s and New Jersey’s high courts, which also gave ample time for responses their rulings, Mr. Lavy said.

It also would keep the marriage status quo until after voters had a chance to consider a constitutional marriage amendment, which is expected to be placed on the ballot.

If passed, the amendment would overturn the California court’s ruling, and the state Supreme Court “should not want to have thousands of same-sex marriage licenses” obtained between June and November “hanging in limbo,” said Mr. Lavy.

The California high court has said it doesn’t want gay couples to be in limbo - that’s why it swiftly ruled that the 4,000 marriage licenses issued by San Francisco city officials in 2004 were null and void, he added.

If the court doesn’t stay its ruling, “it would be creating the very scenario that it said it was unwilling to have” in 2004, Mr. Lavy said.

“I don’t think [the California justices] want their names attached to a fiasco in 2008 that they saw in 2004,” added Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, who, like Mr. Lavy, argued the California marriage case on behalf of traditional values groups.

ADF already has petitioned the court to stay its ruling in In re Marriage Cases; Liberty Counsel is set to file its petition today.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a brief urging the state Supreme Court not to stay its ruling.

“To deny this fundamental right to same-sex couples based on speculation about what might happen in November would not merely be inappropriate. It would be inhumane,” Mr. Herrera said.

California officials said this week that unless the high court rules otherwise, they are preparing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples June 17. Forms amended by the California Department of Public Health will ask for the names of “Party A” and “Party B” instead of “bride” and “groom.”

Gay couples are overjoyed with the June 17 date, but piqued by conservatives’ arguments that delaying marriage would spare them “unneeded confusion.”

“They were worried about us? How dare they,” Robin Tyler, an original litigant in the California cases, said recently on HuffingtonPost.com. “Do they have any idea what it is like to have wanted something our entire lives - the right to love and have that love enshrined in marriage - then to be given it, only to have it threatened by these anti-gay bigots? What harm are we doing them?”

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