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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Calif. county clerks protest ‘gay marriage’ ban; Indiana marriage amendment one step from 2008 ballot

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–Same-sex couples across California protested the state’s “gay marriage” ban on Valentine’s Day by requesting marriage licenses at local county clerk offices — and they got support from some clerks in the process.

Although the clerks didn’t grant licenses to the couples, in Yolo County couples received “Certificates of Inequality,” an unofficial document saying that County Clerk-Recorder Freddie Oakley disagrees with the law and backs the goals of the couples.

Clerks in San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties said they opposed the current law, too, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Homosexual couples across California have used the strategy for years, trying to focus attention on the current law, which protects the natural and traditional definition of marriage.

“This is my fifth year as county clerk and the fifth year in which I will be refusing marriage licenses to people of the same gender,” Oakley told the Chronicle. “It gets harder every year.”

Oakley’s certificate read, in part, “I issue this Certificate of Inequality to you because your choice of marriage partner displeases some people whose displeasure is, apparently, more important than principles of equality.” The bottom of the document said, “May the God of your choice bless you.”

San Mateo County Clerk Warren Slocum had same-sex couples sign a guest book he hopes is part of the county’s historical museum someday, the Chronicle reported. Marion County Clerk Michael Smith took the names and phone numbers of the couples and hopes to be able to perform their ceremony when, he says “gay marriage” is legalized.

But supporters of the current law — which was approved by 61 percent of voters in 2000 — say the clerks abused the power of their office and don’t reflect the beliefs of the general public. Dozens of county residents protested outside Oakley’s Woodland, Calif., office.

“We love Freddie. We voted for her. But we are not happy with her using her office in this way,” Allan Clemensen, head of the California-based American Liberty Alliance, told The Davis Enterprise.

The California Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case this year that could result in the legalization of “gay marriage.” Additionally, the legislature is considering a bill that could legalize it.

MARRIAGE AMENDMENT ADVANCES IN INDIANA — A proposed constitutional marriage amendment in Indiana passed the state Senate by a vote of 39-10 Feb. 12, moving it one step closer to the 2008 ballot. The amendment now must clear the House.

“By passing this amendment, we are giving the people the right to decide whether the definition of marriage should be preserved and put beyond the reach of the courts,” Republican state Sen. Brandt Hershman said, according to The Indianapolis Star.

State law requires approval in consecutive sessions, and both chambers previously had passed it. The amendment would prevent state courts from legalizing “gay marriage” or Vermont-style civil unions. Massachusetts has no such amendment, and its highest court issued a decision in 2003 legalizing “gay marriage.”

A majority of states (27) already have marriage amendments.

PUSH FOR AMENDMENT IN N.J. — The left-leaning New Jersey legislature appears unlikely to pass a marriage amendment anytime soon, but pro-family leaders across the state hope to change that. Several statewide groups, including the New Jersey Family Policy Council, are gathering signatures with the goal of pressuring the legislature to consider an amendment. Although the petitions are non-binding, pro-family leaders hope the signatures will make a difference during this year, an election year, the Star-Ledger newspaper reported.

“We believe that the people should decide it,” John Tomicki, executive director of the League of American Families, said, according to the newspaper.

Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, said the groups hope to gather “hundreds of thousands” of signatures.

Under New Jersey law, all constitutional amendments must initiate in the legislature. If the amendment is to make the November ballot, three-fifths of each chamber must vote for it, according to the Star-Ledger. Or, it could make the 2008 ballot by getting a simple majority vote in each chamber in two consecutive sessions.

“Many clergy are surprised that the people have no voice. That is going to change,” Clenard Childress, pastor of New Calvary Baptist Church in Montclair, N.J., said, according to the Star-Ledger.

Last year the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a decision ordering the legislature to legalize either “gay marriage” or civil unions. Legislators chose civil unions, and the law takes effect Feb. 19. But even some supporters of the civil unions law say it’s just a matter of time — perhaps a few years — before the legislature takes up a “gay marriage” bill and passes it.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.

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  • Michael Foust