State high court to hear gay marriage case

As the four-year anniversary of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s controversial gay marriage move approaches, the California Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it has set a March court date to hear arguments on whether excluding gay couples from marriage violates the state constitution.

On March 4, the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on six cases, which have been coordinated into one, challenging the state’s laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The case was filed after Newsom authorized the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Feb. 12, 2004, sparking a national uproar and drawing criticism across political party lines.

In the month that followed —before the state Supreme Court put an end to the practice — roughly 4,000 same-sex couples took the plunge, only to have their marriages nullified by the court later that year.

Proposition 22, passed by California voters in 2000, defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and San Francisco Superior Court judge Richard Kramer ruled in March 2005 that laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage were unconstitutional.

An October 2006 appellate court panel overturned Kramer’s ruling because, based on the legal definition of marriage in California, an individual has the right to enter into marriage only with someone of the opposite sex, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

The plaintiffs are the city of San Francisco, the state’s leading gay advocacy group and several same-sex couples who have not been allowed to marry.

Opposing the plaintiffs are the state’s attorney general and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as advocates who say marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Schwarzenegger’s position is that the “appropriate venue” for a decision on this case is either in the courts or a vote by the people, Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart said.

Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said that since Newsom made his move four years ago, public opinion has shifted toward allowing same-sex marriages.

dsmith@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Union threatens legal action after Police Commission expands use-of-force policy

San Francisco’s police union is pursuing legal action after the Police Commission… Continue reading

Restorative art on the inside and out

Curator Ericka Scott organizes exhibition of works by prisoners

City Attorney seeks to recoup ‘illegal profits’ gained by Walter Wong through city contracts

San Francisco will seek to recover “illegal profits” gained by well-known permit… Continue reading

SF Police Commission votes to expand use-of-force policy

Decision to bypass union negotiations could set stage for litigation

Free Muni for Youth program expansion halted by SFMTA budget crisis

Low- and moderate-income kids can still travel for free

Most Read