Schwarzenegger: Gay marriage licenses illegal - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Schwarzenegger: Gay marriage licenses illegal

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that the marriage licenses San Francisco is issuing to same-sex couples are illegal, after the city sued the state over a law banning such marriages.

"The marriage certificates submitted to the Department of Health Services by the city and county of San Francisco fail to meet legal standards," Schwarzenegger said in a statement on his Web site.

San Francisco on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the state of California, challenging the state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman only, the city attorney's office said.

The suit came a week after newly elected Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Nearly 3,000 couples have taken advantage of it, despite the filing of two lawsuits to stop the practice.

San Francisco's city attorney Dennis Herrera said his city and county are "going on the offense" with the lawsuit. "Mayor Newsom took a bold step last week, and we fully agree with him that his position is justified,"

Herrera said the city's case will assert that the state law banning same-sex marriage goes against California's constitution because it violates the equal protection and due process clauses.

Schwarzenegger's statement said California citizens generated, and passed, Proposition 22 -- the marriage law -- and it will be defended.

"The attorney general has assured me that he will vigorously defend the constitutionality of the law in the case brought against the state by San Francisco," the governor's statement said.

Herrera said he hopes to consolidate the cases against same-sex marriage pending against the city with the city's lawsuit against the state. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET).

"I would anticipate that this case is going to have a long life," Herrera replied when asked about the national ramifications of the city's move.

Separate suits

One of the suits against the city was to resume in San Francisco County Superior Court at 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET) Friday. Judge Ronald Quidachay had continued the case from Tuesday.

That lawsuit was filed by the Campaign for California Families and the Alliance Defense Fund, which contend the city's issuing of same-sex marriage licenses violates current state law. They asked the judge to stop the practice immediately.

A separate suit, filed by the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund, was continued until March 29 to allow city attorneys time to prepare to show cause as to why Newsom's action is allowable.

Across the street from the Superior Court is City Hall, where lines of people snaked out the front door and down the steps as gays and lesbians from inside and outside the state hurried to get their relationships validated in the eyes of the law.

Newsom has said that marriage between same-sex couples is "inevitable" and that anything less is "fundamentally wrong."

Almost two-thirds of Americans do not think same-sex marriages should be recognized as legally valid, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

But the 1,006 people polled on Monday and Tuesday were almost split over whether individual states or the federal government should determine laws regarding marriages between gays or lesbians.

President Bush Wednesday repeated his belief that marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples, adding that he was "troubled" by what was happening in San Francisco.

Supporters of same-sex marriage say denying gay and lesbian couples marriage licenses denies them basic rights.

"We're talking about state inheritance, we're talking about state property issues, we're talking about children's issues, we're talking about power of attorney," Ralph Neas, president of the group People for the American Way, said.

Critics of same-sex unions say those rights can be afforded through other means, and homosexual couples don't need a marriage certificate to validate them.

Genevieve Wood, vice president of the Communications Family Research Council, said that redefining marriage might be a slippery slope.

"There are people out there ... who want to engage in polygamy, they think that's a good family structure. There are others who think that group marriages are a family structure," Wood added.

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