APRIL 23, 2004
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Mass. governor tries to stop gay wedding march
MARRIAGE, continued from Page 1
In a decision that he said gave "a little to
Everyone." Circuit Judge Frank Bearden said
that the state Supreme Court — or voters —
will ultimately decide the issue of same-sex
marriages. He gave the Oregon Legislature
90 days before they reconvene for a special
session in June, to change the law to extend
marital benefits to Oregon gay couples who
already have a marriage license.
The case. Mary Li, et al vs. State of
Oregon, brought by the American Civil
Liberties Union and nine gay couples, was
heard in the Multnomah County
Courthouse last week.
Supporters of gay marriage asserted
that the constitution bans discrimination
of any kind while opponents claimed that
voters have the right to define marriage as
the union of one man and one woman.
Paul Cates, a spokesperson with the
ACLU, said Tuesday's victory was unprecedented in that it was the first time any
judge in the U.S. had ordered a state to recognize marriage licenses issued to samesex couples.
Cates said he was uncertain which side
would file an appeal in the case since the decision, for now, has made "everyone a bit happy"
The county raised the constitutional
question over the legalities of the marriages on March 3.
Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a former Oregon Supreme Court Justice, and
state Attorney General Hardy Myers
agree with gay rights supporters that a
ban on gay marriage will likely be ruled
unconstitutional, according to an
Associated Press report. Before the trial,
they had requested that the county cease
issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The
The plaintiffs brought the lawsuit
against Kulongoski, Myers and the
Defense of Marriage Coalition, a group
formed the day Multnomah County began
issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
Cates said Judge Bearden rejected the
opposition's main argument, made by
Kelly Clark, a former Republican state legislator and the attorney for the Defense of
Marriage Coalition, who contended in
court that the framers of the Oregon
Constitution never intended marriage to
apply to gay couples.
Calls to the Defense of Marriage
Coalition were not returned.
Calif, closer to legalizing
In California, gay Assembly member
Mark Leno's (D-San Francisco) same-sex
marriage bill was approved by the state's
Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee
by an 8-3 vote. AB 1967 would prohibit the
state of California from denying marriage
licenses to same-sex couples.
Testifying at Tuesday's hearing was
Randy Thomasson, executive director of
Campaign for California Families, who
called the measure "illegal, unconstitutional and immoral."
Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney is seeking emergency legislation in a last-ditch effort to derail same-sex marriage
ceremonies slated to begin next month.
"This bill turns marriage upside down
and utterly rejects the vote of the people to
protect marriage for a man and a woman,"
Thomasson said at Tuesday's hearing.
Opponents maintain that AB 1967 contradicts the 14-word ballot initiative
known as Proposition 22 that states, "Only
marriage between a man and a woman is
valid or recognized in California." The
measure passed in March 2000, with 61 percent of voters statewide supporting it, and
carries the weight of state law as a part of
the California's Family Code.
Supporters of Leno's measure assert that
his bill does not conflict with the state initiative since the 2000 measure deals with recognizing out-of-state gay marriages, not samesex unions performed within the state.
California Assembly member Mark Leno's bill that
would legalize same-sex marriage advanced out of a
committee this week.
Vince Sollitto, a spokesperson for
Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said the office does not comment
on legislation before it reaches the governor's desk.
Schwarzenegger's reluctance to discuss
the bill, which Leno claims faces an uphill
battle in the Assembly, has left its supporters confidant that he would sign it while
leaving social conservatives to ponder
whether the Republican governor is "with
them" on this issue.
Tony Perkins, executive director of the
Family Research Council, said in a news
release on Wednesday, Schwarzenegger
"must" oppose Leno's marriage bill.
"Throughout his campaign and his
short time in office, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger has been ambiguous
about his willingness, or lack thereof, to
protect marriage from those who want to
redefine it out of existence," Perkins wrote.
In a March appearance on "The Tonight
Show with Jay Leno," Schwarzenegger
said gay marriages, if approved by the
courts or voters, would be "fine with me."
Mass. governor tries to
In Massachusetts. Republican Gov. Mitt
Romney, in a last ditch effort to prevent the
issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex
couples, said last week that he will seek
emergency legislation to prevent licenses
from being issued to gay couples on May
17, a date set by the Supreme Judicial
Court in their historic gay marriage ruling
If approved, the legislation would allow
the governor to appoint a special counsel to
argue, on his behalf, to the state's high court
to delay the ruling until the state's constitution is amended to ban same-sex marriage.
O MORE INFO
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad St., 18th floor
New York, NY 10004
The only legal figure who according to
Massachusetts state law can represent
Romney in court is state Attorney General
Thomas Reilly (D), who last month rejected
the governor's request to seek a stay from
the SJC until November 2006, when the
proposed amendment would be presented
to Massachusetts voters. Reilly, who also
opposes gay marriage but is considered a
likely challenger to Romney when he runs
for a second gubernatorial term, has said
the court has ruled twice on this issue and
is unlikely to consider it again.
Romney defended his actions as
designed to "protect the constitutional
process" and to prevent the "legal confusion" that is likely after 2 1/2 years of gay
marriage. But he also conceded that he
would begin holding informational meetings with city clerks to determine how to
handle gay marriages should the legislature deny his request.
The Massachusetts Justices of the Peace
Association, which represents the local officials who have the authority to perform
wedding ceremonies, said a meeting was
scheduled for next Monday between their
members and Romney officials on how to
handle gay marriages in May.
Massachusetts justices of the peace
are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Governor's Council for
While the legislature narrowly approved
a constitutional amendment last March
legalizing civil unions but banning gay marriage, many lawmakers are suffering from
"marriage fatigue," according to Arline
Isaacson, co-chair of the Massachusetts Gay
& Lesbian Political Caucus. She said having
debated the emotional issue ad nauseum,
many lawmakers have no desire to take up
the issue again.
While there may be support in the
House for the emergency legislation, the
AP reported that 22 of 40 senators oppose
the effort, including Senate President
Robert Travaglini, who supported the
And House Speaker Thomas M.
Einneran, an ardent opponent of gay marriage, said last week that he does not
intend to stop same-sex couples from marrying in May.
Josh Friedes, director of the Freedom to
Marry Coalition, said many legislators and
opponents of same-sex marriage "were in
denial" following the SJC's decision in
Goodridge vs. Department of Health. He
added that there is a growing "understanding amongst opponents that there is no way
to stop gay marriages from taking place
without a constitutional crisis."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.