NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Two more state legislatures have passed resolutions asking Congress to consider a constitutional marriage amendment, marking a sharp contrast to the controversy taking place in San Francisco.
Oklahoma’s House and Virginia’s Senate passed resolutions Feb. 17 asking Congress to move toward passing a marriage amendment, just as San Francisco officials continue defying state law by granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Oklahoma’s resolution, passed with no recorded vote, asks Congress to begin hearings on an amendment, while Virginia’s resolution, which passed 29-11, asks Congress to send an amendment to the states. Virginia’s House of Delegates earlier passed a similar resolution.
Meanwhile, San Francisco has decided to sue the state over its law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the Associated Press reported.
The city continues performing same-sex “weddings,” even though California Health and Human Services Agency officials say they won’t recognize the marriage licenses because the forms are being altered. “Bride” and “groom” are being changed to “first applicant” and “second applicant.”
“We do not validate or invalidate the marriage. It would simply not be recorded or registered with the state,” agency spokeswoman Nicole Kasabian Evans told the Associated Press. “Our role is ministerial in nature.”
It is legally unclear whether the state must recognize a license for it to be valid, the AP said.
The controversy began Feb. 12 when the city started granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the fact that state law explicitly says marriage is between one man and one woman. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom says the “weddings” are legal under the state constitution’s equal protection clause.
Although two judges refused Feb. 17 to stop the city from issuing the licenses, pro-family attorneys remain confident that they will win in court.
Liberty Counsel, which is representing the Campaign for California Families, is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 20 before Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay. The hearings are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time, a Liberty Counsel spokesman said. The first hearing will deal with procedural matters, while the second hearing will deal with the request to stop the issuance of licenses. An appeal that had been filed with a state appeals court was withdrawn, a spokeswoman said.
The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the Proposition 22 Legal Defense Education Fund, is weighing its options in the wake of Superior Court Judge James L. Warren’s order Feb. 17 that San Francisco “cease and desist” issuing the licenses. But because the ruling was non-binding, the city was given the option of returning to court March 29 to explain why they have not stopped. Shortly after the order, city officials said the disobedience would continue.
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Jordan Lorence called the ruling a victory.
“Long term, this is very, very good news, because they’re under a cease and desist order which says that the judge is going to tell them to stop doing this unless they can convince him that what they’re doing is legal,” Lorence told Baptist Press. “So, in other words the momentum is going our way.
“The bad news … is that he’s allowing six weeks of this anarchy to continue in San Francisco. In the long run we think our prospects are good.”
Lorence said that although he is not involved in the Liberty Counsel case, he’s supportive of its goals.
“We support them,” he said. “I’m glad there’s two cases in the pipeline, and I hope that what we are unable to do, [Liberty Counsel President] Mat Staver’s group will be able to do [Feb. 20].”
San Francisco may not be the only city to try and grant the licenses. The Chicago Sun-Times Feb. 19 quoted Democrat Mayor Richard Daley as saying he’d have “no problem” with County Clerk David Orr issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Orr followed that by saying he’d do it — if enough people supported him.
“I’m quite interested in exploring that with key players in the city and county,” Orr told the Sun-Times. “I’m already discussing that with a number of advocacy and key groups. I would like to discuss it with the mayor.”
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