San Francisco’s defiant issuance of same-sex marriage licenses is inspiring imitators nationwide, prompting a traditional-family defender to sound an alarm declaring “anarchy is breaking loose across America.”

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin became the first same-sex couple to be officially married in the United States Feb. 12 (Photo: San Francisco Chronicle)

Despite court challenges, more than 3,000 marriage licenses have been issued to homosexuals under the authority of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom since Feb. 12, while around the nation a long-simmering issue is reaching a boiling point.

In a New Mexico county yesterday, 26 licenses were issued to same-sex couples, while in Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley advocated “gay” nuptials in the Windy City.

Those developments, and many more, followed the Nov. 18 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that homosexual couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution and should be allowed to apply for marriage licenses. The state’s Legislature has been ordered to come up with a law that complies with the ruling by mid-May.

“Who will be the next official willing to break the law?” said American Family Association chairman Donald Wildmon in a dispatch to supporters. “It is time to contact your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators demanding that they act on this issue. Anarchy cannot and must not be allowed.”

Many officials are showing “total disregard for the law,” Wildmon wrote. “They have refused to allow the people (that’s you) a voice or a vote on this issue. They consider themselves above the law.”

Yesterday, Sandoval County, N.M., issued 26 licenses to same-sex couples before state Attorney General Patricia Madrid ruled the licenses were “invalid under state law.”

Republican County Clerk Victoria Dunlap 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 urged 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.”

The clerk said she made the decision after County Attorney David Mathews determined New Mexico law is unclear, defining marriage as a contract between parties with no mention of gender, the AP reported.

Dunlap concluded same-sex marriage is “going to be across the country, and so we wanted to be ahead of the curve.”

The attorney general’s order upset the more than 60 couples who had signed up for applications, prompting boos and shouts.

“This is not OK. We deserve rights,” shouted Carolyn Ford, according to the AP.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, restating his opposition to same-sex marriage, said he expects the state Supreme Court to resolve the issue. He does favor Vermont-style civil unions, however, which grant virtually all the rights of marriage.

In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley said 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.

In Michigan yesterday, some local homosexual couples planned to converge on the Kent County Clerk’s office to obtain a marriage license, though officials said they would be shown a form that clearly states the law: “No man shall marry another man” and “no woman shall marry another woman.”

The action mirrored a campaign by homosexual activists called “Freedom to Marry Week,” in which more than 4,000 homosexuals converged on local agencies across the nation ahead of Valentine’s Day to request a marriage license.

The campaign of the predominantly homosexual Metropolitan Community Church was aimed at gathering opposition to a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would restrict marriage to a man and a woman.

The federal amendment has gathered momentum in Congress since the court ruling in Massachusetts.

In Oregon, church groups and others are taking pre-emptive action against same-sex marriage with the filing of four ballot initiatives to amend the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Oregon’s current law says does not say marriage is between a man and a woman though most legal experts believe it permits only traditional marriage.

But the opponents of same-sex marriage want to strengthen the law to prevent Oregon judges from recognizing same-sex marriages from other states.

Many of the thousands flocking to San Francisco come from outside California.

Late yesterday, however, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the state’s attorney general to stop San Francisco’s issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in defiance of state law.

Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Lockyer ordering him “to take immediate steps” to have a court declare the city’s actions illegal.

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