ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE IN CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTIONAL
October 14, 2004
1:15 AM Eastern
Bill Lockyer, California's Attorney General, says laws confining marriage to a man and a woman do not violate California's State Constitution. This long awaited legal opinion which sought to put California on the same page as Massachusetts where same sex marriage has been declared legal, stated it is up to the voters or the state legislature to decide whether to change "the common and traditional understanding" of matrimony that "pre-dates the founding of this state or nation." This position is a complete juxtaposition as what happened in the State of Massachusetts when their high court took the matter out of the hands of the voters and the state legislature.
"There is simply no deeply rooted tradition of same-sex marriage in California or in any other state," Lockyer said even though he acknowledged in his personal opinion, "committed and loving relationships between two individuals deserve recognition under California law."
Several lawsuits were filed claiming California's marriage laws violated the state constitution anti-discrimination provisions. Lockyer rejected this argument in his 37-page brief noting that lawmakers have taken considerable steps in granting full spousal benefits to homosexuals and lesbians who register as "domestic partners."
At the forefront of attorneys assisting the 12 couples who sued, is LAMBDA's Legal Defense and Education Fund which represents homosexuals, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transsexuals who attempted to use the same arguments that persuaded Massachusetts's highest court to legalize same-sex marriage earlier this year. Jon Davidson of LAMBDA stated, "It looks like the attorney general is making the strongest case the state can make to defend the restriction against same-sex couples from marrying given the current state of California law," Davidson said. "I am disappointed about his view that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is not discrimination against gay people."
Lockyer, a Democrat, has expressed his interest in running for Governor in 2006. His ruling on this political issue could have an impact on his possible run. The California Supreme Court recently struck down and declared void the 3,955 same sex marriages authorized by San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom.
Last month by a 79% approval margin, Louisiana voters soundly said same sex marriages and civil unions will be banned by a state constitutional amendment. Although Louisiana already had a law on the books mandating that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, supporters of this state constitutional amendment wanted to make certain activist judges on the bench would not over rule the will of the people of the state. Recently judges in Oregon and Washington state have ruled the marriage laws in their states unconstitutional.
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At the forefront of attorneys assisting the 12 couples who sued, is LAMBDA's Legal Defense and Education Fund which represents homosexuals, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transsexuals who attempted to use the same arguments that persuaded Massachusetts's highest court to legalize same-sex marriage earlier this year.