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San. Fran. defies law, issues licenses to same-sex couples

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–The city of San Francisco made history Feb. 12 by issuing the nation’s first official marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even though the state has a law explicitly prohibiting such unions.

The licenses are being challenged in court.

California voters in 2000 overwhelming passed a proposition stating that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” California is one of 38 states with such a protection.

Nevertheless, two homosexual women, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, were pronounced married at the city hall Feb. 12. The women are 83 and 79, respectively, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. Other same-sex “weddings” followed.

The licenses were granted as state legislators 3,000 miles away in Massachusetts debated a constitutional amendment seeking to prohibit same-sex “marriage” from being legalized in that state.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom sparked the controversy Feb. 10 by releasing a statement saying he was asking the county clerk to see what needed to be done to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The statement said that Newsom believed the state constitution allowed such unions.

“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 in the statement. “Denying basic rights to members of our community will not be tolerated.

“California’s Constitution is clear: discrimination is immoral, it is illegal and it is antithetical to our most cherished values — liberty and freedom.”

Liberty Counsel, on behalf of the Campaign for California Families, then filed suit seeking to prevent the city from issuing such licenses. But with a court injunction possibly looming, San Francisco hurriedly issued the licenses.

“They went ahead and did it anyway because of the fact that we filed a suit,” Liberty Counsel President and general counsel Mathew Staver told Baptist Press. “The court will certainly stop the mayor from doing this illegal act. … Even though they’re lined up at the city hall, the paper will simply be worthless.”

Staver added that Newsom “has no more right to do what he is doing than he has to secede San Francisco from the state of California. What he is doing is no more than a symbolic act.”

Staver said a court hearing will not take place until Feb. 17.
For more information on the battle over same-sex “marriage,” visit BP’s story collection at:

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  • Michael Foust