NATIONAL CENTER FOR LESBIAN RIGHTS
COMMUNITY UPDATE II:
SAN FRANCISCO MARRIAGE LITIGATION
Updated February 17, 2004 8 p.m. PST
PLEASE NOTE: Many press stories reporting on today's legal actions
contained inaccurate information. Specific corrections are noted below.
LAWSUIT #1: PROPOSITION 22 LEGAL DEFENSE FUND vs. CITY & COUNTY OF SAN
A hearing before Superior Court Judge James Warren was held in San
Francisco at 2 pm on Tuesday, February 17. Petitioners, the Proposition
22 Legal Defense Fund, filed an alternative writ of mandate, and requested
that San Francisco be ordered to stop issuing marriage licenses to
same-sex couples. Judge Warren granted the writ, but denied the request
for a stay. This means that the petitioners can continue to argue their
case - but it also means that they were unable to show that they would be
irreparably harmed if marriage licenses continue to be issued to same sex
couples. Therefore, San Francisco may continue to issue marriage licenses
to same-sex couples. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March
29, when the petitioners can once again argue for an injunction.
However, the judge has indicated that the issue of whether California's
Constitution requires equal protection for same-sex couples will be the
key issue in this case.
Several couples were granted the right to intervene in the case, and will
be represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American
Civil Liberties Union, and Lambda Legal. Equality California will also
seek to intervene in the case on behalf of its members, board, and staff.
LAWSUIT #2: CAMPAIGN FOR CALIFORNIA FAMILIES vs. CITY & COUNTY OF SAN
Randy Thomasson and Campaign for California Families have also filed suit
against San Francisco and Mayor Gavin Newsom. An initial hearing was
scheduled this morning in San Francisco before Superior Court Judge Ronald
Quidachay. Because CCF did not provide proper notice to the City and
County of San Francisco, Judge Quidachay postponed the hearing on their
request for a preliminary injunction until Friday, February 20.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER
* Victory: Today's rulings were a SIGNIFICANT VICTORY for married
same-sex couples, and for same-sex couples who still wish to get married.
San Francisco can continue issuing marriage licenses, and the anti-gay
petitioners were unable to demonstrate that they are suffering irreparable
harm due to the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. No
marriage licenses were revoked.
* Key Issue: Although the anti-gay groups are arguing that San
Francisco's actions are prohibited by state laws, Judge Warren seems
likely to consider the key question underlying the marriage issue: does
denying same-sex couples the right to marry violate the California
* Marriage Means Marriage. Nearly 3000 same-sex couples have been married
in San Francisco since February 12. THESE MARRIAGES ARE NOT SYMBOLIC.
THEY ARE REAL MARRIAGES.
* Corrections: Despite statements to the contrary by the Proposition 22
lawyers and in some media stories, neither judge today indicated that the
plaintiffs were likely to prevail in this litigation. Press reports also
indicated that Judge Warren would have ruled for Prop 22 except for a
punctuation error - but in fact, the judge denied the request to stop the
issuance of marriage licenses because Prop 22 did not prove that it is
suffering harm as a result of the City's actions. Finally, one AP report
suggested that Judge Warren said that the marriages of same-sex couples
appear to be illegal - but this report is incorrect as the Judge did not
address this issue during today's hearing.