NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told the state’s attorney general Feb. 20 to take legal action against the city of San Francisco, hours after a judge refused to stop the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples within the city.
“Our civilized society and legal system is based upon a respect for and adherence to the rule of law,” the letter to Attorney General Bill Lockyer said, according to the Associated Press. “The City and County of San Francisco’s unfortunate choice to disregard state law and grant marriage certificates to gay couples directly undermines this fundamental guarantee. As Attorney General, you have the authority to take legal action to require the City and County of San Francisco to comply with the laws of the State.”
Schwarzenegger made the announcement at the state Republican Party convention Feb. 20 and criticized the judges who have handled the case.
“We rely on our courts to enforce the rule of law. But you see, in San Francisco, the courts are dropping the ball,” Schwarzenegger told supporters. “It’s time for the city to stop traveling down this dangerous path of ignoring the rule of law. That’s my message to San Francisco.”
The governor’s order came after a San Francisco judge refused to halt the city’s issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying pro-family attorneys had failed to show the ceremonies were causing irreparable harm.
According to AP, Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay told Liberty Counsel attorneys that he had to consider the rights of same-sex couples. Liberty Counsel is suing on behalf of the Campaign for California Families, which argues that the rights of California voters have been infringed. In 2000 voters passed by a margin of 61-39 percent a proposition stating that marriage is between one man and one woman.
Liberty Counsel was asking for a temporary restraining order.
“If the court has to weigh rights here, on the one hand you are talking about voting rights, and on the other you are talking about equal rights,” Quidachay said, according to AP.
Quidachay consolidated the lawsuits brought by the Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the Proposition 22 Legal Defense Education Fund.
Prior to Quidachay’s ruling the Alliance Defense Fund was scheduled to appear again before Superior Court Judge James Warren March 29. In a ruling earlier in the week Warren told the city to “cease and desist” issuing the licenses or come back in March to explain why they had not stopped. Both the Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defense Fund were considering additional maneuvers to halt the city’s illegal action.
San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Feb. 12 in defiance of state law, with new Mayor Gavin Newsom saying the state’s ban defies the state constitution. On Feb. 19, the city announced it was suing the state, seeking to overturn the state ban.
Jordan Lorence, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, told Baptist Press he believes the case eventually will end up before the California Supreme Court.
“I think it will,” he said. “Depending on what arguments they raise, it may end up at the U.S. Supreme Court — if they raise federal constitutional claims as the basis for their actions in San Francisco.”
Meanwhile, the national debate over same-sex “marriage” extended to New Mexico Feb. 20, when Sandoval County — just north of Albuquerque — began granting licenses to homosexual couples. But later in the day, the state’s attorney general said the licenses were not valid under current law.
“Until the laws are changed through the legislative process or declared unconstitutional by the judicial process, the statutes limit marriage in New Mexico to a man and a woman,” New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid wrote in an advisory letter, according to the Associated Press. “Thus in my judgment, no county clerk should issue a marriage license to same sex couples because those licenses would be invalid under current law.”
Prior to Madrid’s statement at least one pro-family group was expected to ask for a temporary restraining order.
While California has a defense of marriage act protecting it against same-sex “marriage,” New Mexico doesn’t. New Mexico’s marriage law is gender-neutral, although its law defining the marriage forms does mention “bride” and “groom” and “male” and “female.”
At least 15 same-sex couples were granted marriage licenses in Sandoval County, according to the Associated Press.
“This has nothing to do with politics or morals,” Sandoval County clerk Victoria Dunlap said, according to AP. “If there are no legal grounds that say this should be prohibited, I can’t withhold it. This office won’t say no until shown it’s not permissible.”
The county attorney said he saw nothing in state law prohibiting same-sex “marriages.” But Madrid saw different.
A new Public Policy Institute of California poll showed that state residents opposed same-sex “marriage” by a margin of 50-44 percent. Those living in the San Francisco area supported same-sex “marriage” by a 58-37 percent margin. The poll of 2,004 residents was conducted Feb. 8-16.
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