Although California bans same-sex marriage, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom wants the city to seek a way to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

The unprecedented plan would set off legal challenges forcing state courts to determine whether barring same-sex couples from marrying is discriminatory and unconstitutional, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Last Wednesday, 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.

Newsom argues “gays” and lesbians should be able to marry based on the California Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, the Chronicle said.

City Clerk Nancy Alfaro has agreed to the mayor’s request to make necessary changes to ensure marriage licenses are issue without regard to gender or sexual orientation.

A Sacramento-based lobby group, California Campaign for Families, says it will file suit Friday afternoon in San Francisco Superior Court in response to the mayor’s plan.

“California state Law says marriage is only for a man and a woman,” argued
CCF Executive Director, Randy Thomasson.

Newsom, 36, who took office Jan. 8, insists he merely is fulfilling his duty.

“A little more than a month ago, I took the oath of office here at City Hall and swore to uphold California’s Constitution, which clearly outlaws all forms of discrimination,” Newsom said, according to the San Francisco paper. “Denying basic rights to members of our community will not be tolerated.”

Thomasson contends Newsom has it all wrong.

“When Mayor Newsom raised his right hand and swore to uphold the law, he either lied or didn’t do his homework,” he said. “Newsom’s out-of-control behavior shows he is pandering to special interests like [former Gov.] Gray Davis did. San Francisco can’t make state law — that is the job of the sovereign state of California.”

The court ruling in Massachusetts and elsewhere has prompted Congress to propose a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Last year, California passed a domestic partner law giving same-sex couples virtually all the rights of marriage without using the term. But state Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, plans to introduce a bill this week to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. It would allow same-sex couples to travel across state lines without jeopardizing their marriage rights.

“It’s a one-two punch,” Leno said of his and Newsom’s efforts, according to the Chronicle.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer has not taken a position on Newsom’s proposal or on same-sex marriage, the paper said.

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