Traditional-family defenders sought an immediate halt to San Francisco’s unprecedented issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but a judge has delayed a ruling until Friday.

A motion to stop the licenses was filed on behalf of the pro-family lobby group Campaign for California Families by the public-interest firms Lively & Ackerman and Liberty Counsel. The complaint contended Mayor Gavin Newsom and Clerk Nancy Alfaro had no authority to redefine marriage in direct conflict with California law.

Same-sex couples line up outside San Francisco City Hall Monday. (Photo: San Jose Mercury News)

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay was the first of two judges to take up a petition today. Another lawsuit will be heard at 2 p.m. Pacific time.

Quidachay said the plaintiffs had not given the city enough notice to obtain an emergency injunction.

“The court itself is not prepared to hear the matter,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

With the clerk’s office kept open over the weekend, more than 2,400 same-sex couples have been issued licenses since Thursday, when the city became the site of the first officially sanctioned “gay marriage” in American history.

The hundreds who lined up outside City Hall in the rain had a sense of urgency.

“We really felt that if we didn’t make it by today that we wouldn’t be able to,” said Deb Agarwal, 40, who was united with her partner of six years, Diane Pizza, 55, according to the AP.

The mayor’s office said it will continue to issue the licenses until it hears the outcome of the second ruling.

The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund filed the other suit.

Newsom argues homosexuals should be able to marry based on the California Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. The 36-year-old mayor, who began his term Jan. 8, insists he merely is fulfilling his duty.

In their brief in the CCF case, lawyers for the city argued local government agencies can advance their own interpretations of the state constitution. They also reject the family lobby group’s claim that a court stay is necessary to avoid irreparable harm, contending same-sex couples “denied the right to marry face far greater harm than the petitioners here.”

But Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel, insists the city is violating the law.

“We are confident that, when the court hears the arguments in this case, the court will invalidate the mayor’s publicity stunt,” he said. “The marriage licenses will not be worth the paper they are written on.”

The Alliance Defense Fund – representing state Sen. William Knight, author of a successful state ballot-measure that limited marriage to a man and a woman – argues the San Francisco County Clerk has no authority under the state’s constitution to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The statutes under the family code specify marriage is reserved to a man and a woman, and ADF chief counsel Benjamin Bull points out no court has declared that section to be unconstitutional.

“Officials charged with solemnizing marriages must enforce those statutes on constitutional grounds when issuing marriage licenses, regardless of what [Mayor] Newsom orders them to do,” said Bull.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (Photo:

A Christian legal group has urged California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to arrest Newsom for his defiance of state law. The American Family Association Center for Law and Policy called his move “an arrogant stunt” proving “the radical homosexual movement will trample the rights of all who stand in their way.”

The AFA’s law center wrote Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Bill Lockyer Friday insisting the mayor not only violated civil law, but criminal law as well.

The letter cites California’s penal code Section 115, which “prohibits the knowing procurement of any false or forged instrument to be filed or recorded in any public office.”

The penalty for the felony, the letter notes, is up to three years in prison. The AFA says this means three years for each false certificate issued.

Tomorrow, Wyoming’s Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a bill that would bar recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.

Yesterday the Georgia Senate passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. But the measure might not make it on the November ballot because of opposition in the state House, where it needs 120 out of 180 votes.

Republican state Sen. Mike Crotts said the events in San Francisco and the recent high-court ruling in Massachusetts moved Georgia lawmakers to action, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“They forced it to the surface in Massachusetts. They forced it to the surface in California,” Crotts said. “Let the people be heard over the voices of the judges.”

On Feb. 4, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said in an advisory opinion same-sex couples are entitled to marriage and not an alternative, such as Vermont-style civil unions. The high court decided Nov. 18 homosexual couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution. However, the 4-3 November ruling stopped short of declaring homosexual couples should be granted the license, ordering the state legislature to come up with a solution by mid-May.

The Massachusetts Legislature, however, suspended debate this month after the narrow defeat of three amendments during two days of tense negotiations. The lawmakers will reconvene the constitutional convention March 11.

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