The city of San Francisco, which has allowed nearly 3.000 same-sex couples to marry since last week, went on the legal offensive Thursday, suing the state to overturn laws that stipulate marriage must be between a man and a woman.
The lawsuit asks the San Francisco County Superior Court to rule three sections of the California Family Code prohibiting same-sex marriage run counter to the state constitution.
The suit also targets Proposition 22, a law which restricts marriage to heterosexual couples. The measure was approved four years ago by 60 percent of state voters.
Herrera says both state laws violate the equal protection clause of the California Constitution by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.
Two conservative family values groups have also been named in San Francisco's lawsuit. They sued the city in a bid to block it from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The city's lawsuit asks that those cases be consolidated into one. Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly blasted the city's legal maneuver.
The lawsuit "is without merit and reflects a spoiled-brat mentality of someone who doesn't like the rule of law," charged Randy Thomassen, leader of the Campaign for California Families, informs &to=http://www.worldnetdaily.com' target=_blank>WorldNetDaily.com
San Francisco officials have been helping homosexual couples fill out the standard marriage form by manually scratching out the words "groom" and "bride," and writing in "Applicant 1" and "Applicant 2," or "spouses for life." California Attorney General Bill Lockyer yesterday said his office would defend California's traditional marriage laws. "The people of California have spoken. State law prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriage," he said, reports &to=http://www.washingtontimes.com' target=_blank>WashingtonTimes.com
In bringing the Superior Court suit, officials also tried to gain an edge over anti-gay marriage forces by naming as defendants the two groups that have sued the city, the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund and Campaign for California Families.
The city's suit comes as the same-sex marriage opponents head to court today trying to persuade a judge to halt the stream of gay and lesbian weddings at San Francisco City Hall. So far they've been unsuccessful in getting a judge to issue a stay.
"As a lifelong defender of civil rights, due process and equal protection for all, I do not personally support policies that give lesser legal rights and responsibilities to committed same-sex couples than those provided to heterosexual couples," the Democratic attorney general said.
He said that is why he has supported extending benefits through domestic partnerships and civil union statutes. "But the people of California have spoken," Lockyer said. "State law prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages."
"If you think this has been a procedural nightmare," Ackerman said, "you haven't seen anything at all." A total of 3,034 same-sex couples have been issued marriage licenses since Feb. 12, and there were long lines at City Hall again Thursday. Volunteer officiant Bill Jones said he was marrying a couple on the mayor's balcony when he noticed a stranger looking on. Jones asked the man to take a picture of him with the happy couple, and the man obliged. The man proceeded to follow Jones down the hall, saying he was performing a citizen's arrest.