As court battles swirl around San Francisco’s unprecedented issuance of same-sex marriage licenses, the issue is coming to a head, particularly in a New Mexico town where homosexuals were “wed” today.
By late this morning, the Sandoval County clerk’s office had granted licenses to 15 homosexual couples and a sign-up list had grown to 38, the Associated Press reported.
County Clerk Victoria Dunlap, a Republican, said a call earlier this week inquiring about same-sex ceremonies prompted her to seek a legal opinion. She found no laws prohibiting it, but Republican state Sen. Steve Komadina, criticized the decision and has urged state Attorney General Patricia Madrid to issue a prompt opinion.
Dunlap told the Albuquerque Journal her decision “has nothing to do with politics or morals.”
“If there are no legal grounds that say this should be prohibited, I can’t withhold it,” she said. ” … This office won’t say no until shown it’s not permissible.”
In Michigan, meanwhile, some local homosexual couples plan to converge on the Kent County Clerk’s office to obtain a marriage license, though officials say they will be shown a form that clearly states the law: “No man shall marry another man” and “no woman shall marry another woman.”
In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley says he would have “no problem” with the Cook County clerk issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples and is open to a San Francisco-style protest if a consensus can be built, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
After a suit by San Francisco yesterday over state law, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared the nearly 3,000 licenses issued to same-sex couples by the city are illegal.
“The marriage certificates submitted to the Department of Health Services by the city and county of San Francisco fail to meet legal standards,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
San Francisco challenged California law defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman one week after Mayor Gavin Newsom began issuing the licenses.
”The rights afforded by California’s Constitution clearly trump laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, told Reuters after filing suit.
The lawsuit asks the San Francisco County Superior Court to rule three sections of the California Family Code prohibiting same-sex marriage run counter to the state constitution.
The suit also targets Proposition 22, a law which restricts marriage to heterosexual couples. The measure was approved four years ago by 60 percent of state voters.
Herrera says both state laws violate the equal protection clause of the California Constitution by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.
Two conservative family values groups also have been named in San Francisco’s lawsuit. They sued the city in a bid to block it from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The city’s lawsuit asks that those cases be consolidated into one.
Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly blasted the city’s legal maneuver.
The lawsuit ”is without merit and reflects a spoiled-brat mentality of someone who doesn’t like the rule of law,” charged Randy Thomasson, executive director of Campaign for California Families.
An attorney for his group, Mathew Staver of Florida-based Liberty Counsel, said: ”The city is engaging in blatant delay tactics. They’re afraid to reach the merits of this case. That’s why they’re trying to derail our hearing Friday,” according to Knight Ridder Newspapers.
Schwarzenegger said Attorney General Bill Lockyer “has assured me that he will vigorously defend the constitutionality of the law.”
And as WorldNetDaily reported, a state official says California will not accept thousands of marriage licenses granted to homosexual couples because the city changed the language on the official applications to delete gender-specific terms.
“There is a statewide form that every county has to use for marriage applications,” Nicole Kasabian Evans, a spokeswoman for California Health and Human Services, told Reuters.
“If we receive application forms that are different from the single form used throughout the state, we will not accept them.”
Meanwhile, license applications are still being issued by city officials as court challenges are heard today.
Several issues scheduled to be heard at 11 a.m. by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay could determine whether the challenges of two plaintiffs’ cases will be consolidated and, if so, which judge would handle the matter. Quidachay could also hold a previously scheduled hearing at 2 p.m. when attorneys for Campaign for California Families hope to ask the judge to order the city to immediately stop handing out same-sex marriage licenses.
In response to another effort to halt the same-sex wedding march, San Francisco Judge James Warren on Tuesday asked San Francisco to “cease and desist” from issuing more marriage licenses but declined to order penalties or otherwise intervene until he heard legal arguments on March 29, reports Reuters.
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