City Attorney Says Delaying Constitutional Right to Marry By Gay and Lesbian Couples is ‘Inappropriate,’ ‘Inhumane’
SAN FRANCISCO (May 28, 2008) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed the City’s opposition to an arch-conservative legal organization’s request that the California Supreme Court postpone the effective date of its landmark decision recognizing marriage equality for lesbians and gay couples until after the November 2008 election, when a proposed amendment may go before state voters to write marriage discrimination into the California Constitution. The Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund, which had been a party to litigation against the City in case beginning in 2004, filed its request for a stay with the high court on May 22.
“It is now established that the California Constitution guarantees marriage equality for same-sex couples,” Herrera argued in his 17-page brief. “It is further established that this right is of exceeding, fundamental importance. To deny this fundamental right to same-sex couples based on speculation about what might happen in November would not merely be inappropriate. It would be inhumane.”
Herrera also argued that the true purpose behind the organization’s motion was to influence the November election. “The Proposition 22 Fund knows full well that once gay anDd lesbian partners begin to wed, more and more Californians will come to realize that marriage equality harms no one — which is exactly what happened in Massachusetts,” Herrera said. “Marriage between same-sex couples may be the last thing proponents of a Constitutional amendment want, but it is no basis for the Court to stay its ruling. I am confident that our high court will not allow itself to be used as a political tool by deviating from its normal rules.”
The Proposition 22 Fund’s motion cited press reports that some county clerks and local officials had expressed reluctance to comply promptly with the Supreme Court’s ruling. In response, Herrera pointed out that, under the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco, county clerks and local officials have a “mandatory and ministerial” duty to issue marriage licenses on equal terms once the Court’s decision becomes final. Thus, the campaign by the Campaign for California Families — another party to the Marriage Cases that had been found to lack standing — which aggressively urges defiance of the Court’s ruling by local officials is not only improper, it is illegal. See http://www.savecalifornia.com/getactive/alertmain.php?alid=201
The case is In re Marriage Cases, California Supreme Court, No. S147999.