A conservative lobby group expressed confidence it will nullify licenses issued by the city of San Francisco yesterday in the country’s first official same-sex marriages.

Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of the public interest firm Liberty Counsel is filing a lawsuit today on behalf of the Sacramento-based California Campaign for Families, arguing the city has no authority to marry homosexual couples.

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

“The court will void this publicity stunt,” Staver said. “Mayor [Gavin] Newsom has no more right to do what he is doing than he does to secede the state of California from the union.”

As WorldNetDaily reported, with the prodding of Newsom, San Francisco officials defied state law yesterday by officiating at the marriage of two lesbians and more than a dozen other homosexual couples.

Newsom’s unprecedented move apparently was intended to upstage the CCF lawsuit, which was a response to his announced intent earlier this week to find some way to issue the licenses.

Staver’s group will file for an injunction in San Francisco Superior Court today.

Just before noon yesterday, City Assessor Mabel Teng presided over a closed-door civil ceremony at City Hall for longtime lesbian activists Phyllis Lyon, 79, and Del Martin, 83, mayor’s spokesman Peter Ragone said.

Homosexual-rights groups reacted with delight.

“Yesterday, they couldn’t get married. Today, they can.” said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California. “To suggest that these couples are experiencing a profound sense of happiness is an understatement.”

Kate Kendall, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called it “an unforgettable day.”

“For the first time in this country, lesbian and gay couples in loving, committed relationships were able to exercise the same right to protect their families that others take for granted.”

San Francisco’s unorthodox move put California at center stage in a national debate that has been focused recently on Massachusetts.

Last week, the state’s 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 yesterday after the narrow defeat of three amendents during two days of tense negotiations. The lawmakers will reconvene the constitutional convention March 11.

In Indiana Tuesday morning, two women walked into the Lake County clerk’s office to apply for a marriage license, knowing they would be rejected. But they sought to make a point as one of 4,000 same-sex couples nationwide to unsuccessfully apply for a marriage license during “Freedom to Marry Week.”

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 with the court ruling in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

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.

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