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California’s altered forms for same-sex “marriage.”
A pro-family organization in California and a law firm have teamed up to ask county clerks to do what neither the state Supreme Court nor Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was willing to do – follow the state constitution.
Officials with the Campaign for Children and Families are working with the United States Justice Foundation to encourage county clerks, who are assigned the duties of issuing marriage licenses, to refuse to issue licenses to same-sex duos.
“We’re encouraging the clerks to abide by the express will of the written California constitution and the man-woman marriage statutes, and to respect the democratic process which will be decided at the ballot box in November, by not issuing marriage licenses to anyone but a man and a woman,” said Randy Thomasson, president of CCF.
“The judges and the governor are violating the Constitution and the statutes, but county clerks know they have a duty to follow the statutes, which haven’t been changed yet. Clerks don’t have to issue homosexual ‘marriage’ licenses, and they shouldn’t,” he said.
“We’re asking that you please decline to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples unless and until the Legislature changes the marriage statutes, the people change the constitution, and/or all legal options have been exhausted,” Gary Kreep, executive director of the USJF wrote to the clerks.
Kreep’s organization is offering pro bono legal counsel to clerks who resist the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same-sex marriages, a ruling he defines as “unconstitutional” itself.
“By doing so, you will follow California law, respect the democratic process, and avoid being drawn into what dissenting California Supreme Court Justice Marvin Baxter called the ‘majority’s foreclosure of this ordinary democratic process,'” Kreep said.
The organizations this week sent letters to 38 county clerks in California, out of 58, in areas where the man-woman marriage ethic is strongest.
“Already several clerks have responded, telling CCF they intend NOT to issue any same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses,” the organizations confirmed today.
CCF and USJF said their letters reached clerks Wednesday, the same day the Schwarzenegger administration forwarded to the clerks state forms that changed “bride” and “groom” designations to “party a” and “party b.”
That is just the latest move in violation of the will of California residents as well as the state constitution, the organizations said.
“As you know, on May 15, 2008, the California State Supreme Court ruled, ‘the designation of marriage [be] available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples,'” the letter from the USJF said. “This decision is contrary to the California Constitution, which states that legislative power is vested in the legislature and reserved for the people … and that the legislative, executive, and judicial branches may not exercise the power of either of the other branches.”
The letter continued: “The court’s opinion is also a direct violation of the will of the people of California, who, in March 2000, passed Proposition 22 by 61.4 percent of the vote, declaring that ‘only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.'”
The actual constitutional provision reads: “The powers of state government are legislative, executive, and judicial. Persons charged with the exercise of one power may not exercise either of the others except as permitted by this Constitution.”
In addition, the USJF said, the court ruling doesn’t become final until June 15. For “marriages” to be valid, new forms are needed, and “these said rules, forms,and procedures cannot legally be altered until the marriage statutes are changed by the Legislature.”
The letter also pointed out it is expected that California voters in November will be allowed to vote on a state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman, which would toss out the court’s recent opinion.
The dissent to the California opinion, from Baxter, called the logic “legal jujitsu” that “oversteps judiciary power.” Another dissent, from Carol Corrigan, said the conclusion simply was “judicial overreaching.”
CCF told the clerks simply, “The court did not and cannot rewrite the statutes to require that you issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”
“Separation of powers is a foundational principle of our system of government. The California Constitution expressly prohibits the courts from making laws. Only the legislature and the people, through the initiative process, may change the statutes or the constitution,” CCF said.
“Therefore, the most that the California Legislature can do in response to the court’s opinion is to pass legislation that requires county clerks to issue marriage license to same-sex couples, as well as to a man and a woman. If proposed, the changes would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2009.”
L to R: Carlos R. Moreno, Joyce L. Kennard, Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, Ron M. George participated in the majority opinion declaring a one-man-one-woman limit to marriage unconstitutional. Ming W. Chin, Marvin R. Baxter and Carol A. Corrigan of the California Supreme Court filed dissents
CCF noted the state “clearly understand” that precedent in 2004 when San Francisco officials simply changed the state form, as has been done now by other officials. At that time, officials said, “We have to follow the law when we process these forms. It’s part of the public statute.”
CCF pointed out that marriage statutes aren’t changed by executive order, but by being “passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.”
“Because of the filing of Supreme Court petitions and controversy over the necessity of terminating domestic partnerships, along with the express standards written in the California Constitution and the California Family Code, we are asking you to do your constitutional and statutory duty,” CCF said. “Maintain public order, uphold the marriage statutes, and respect the aforementioned democratic processes.”
Baxter’s dissent raised even further warnings of chaos in the institution of marriage unless judicial and executive activism is reined in.
“The bans on incestuous and polygamous marriages are ancient and deeprooted, and, as the majority suggests, they are supported by strong considerations of social policy,” he wrote. “Our society abhors such relationships, and the notion that our laws could not forever prohibit them seems preposterous. Yet here, the majority overturns, in abrupt fashion, an initiative statute confirming the equally deeprooted assumption that marriage is a union of partners of the opposite sex. The majority does so by relying on its own assessment of contemporary community values, and by inserting in our Constitution an expanded definition of the right to marry that contravenes express statutory law.
“Who can say that, in 10, 15 or 20 years, an activist court might not rely on the majority’s analysis to conclude, on the basis of a perceived evolution in community values, that the laws prohibiting polygamous and incestuous marriages were no longer constitutionally justified?”