San Francisco 2004 same-sex weddings

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The San Francisco 2004 same-sex weddings took place between February 11 and March 11, 2004, after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom directed the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and a number of interest groups sued to end the practice. About 4,000 such licenses were issued before the California Supreme Court ordered a halt to the practice on March 11. On August 12, 2004, the California Supreme Court voided all of the licenses that had been issued in February and March.

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, United States

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 884,363 residents as of 2017. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

Mayor of San Francisco head of the executive branch of the San Francisco city and county government

The Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco is the head of the executive branch of the San Francisco city and county government. The officeholder has the duty to enforce city laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the legislative branch. The Mayor serves a four-year term and is limited to two successive terms. Because of San Francisco's status as a consolidated city-county, the mayor also serves as the head of government of the county; both entities have been governed together by a combined set of governing bodies since 1856.

Gavin Newsom 40th Governor of California

Gavin Christopher Newsom is an American politician and businessman. He is the 40th and current governor of California, since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 49th lieutenant governor of California from 2011 to 2019 and as the 42nd mayor of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011. He was sworn in as Governor of California on January 7, 2019. He is a national progressive figure who was a prominent early advocate for same-sex marriage, immigrant rights, universal health care, gun control, and the legalization of cannabis.

Contents

The legal dispute over the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples led to the 2008 In re Marriage Cases ruling by the California Supreme Court, which legalized same-sex marriage in California.

In re Marriage Cases, 183 P.3d 384 was a California Supreme Court case where the court held that laws treating classes of persons differently based on sexual orientation should be subject to strict judicial scrutiny, and that an existing statute and initiative measure limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the rights of same-sex couples under the California Constitution and may not be used to preclude them from marrying.

The line of same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses stretched for blocks around San Francisco's City Hall in February 2004. SF-City Hall Line SS-Marriage.JPG
The line of same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses stretched for blocks around San Francisco's City Hall in February 2004.

Recently elected Mayor Gavin Newsom and other city officials began issuing marriage licenses in San Francisco, on February 12, 2004. Newsom asserted the California Constitution's equal protection clause gave him authority to grant same-sex marriage licenses. He said he was inspired to allow same-sex marriages after hearing President George Bush describe the need to prevent same-sex marriage, possibly by a federal constitutional amendment, in his State of the Union address. [1] The previous November, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had issued an order for same-sex marriages to begin in that state in May 2004. [2] City officials said they had officiated at more than 900 weddings within the first three days. [3]

Same-sex marriage is the marriage of two persons of the same sex or gender, entered into in a civil or religious ceremony.

George W. Bush 43rd President of the United States

George Walker Bush is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He had previously served as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

The State of the UnionAddress is an annual message delivered by the President of the United States to a joint session of the United States Congress at the beginning of each calendar year in office. The message typically includes a budget message and an economic report of the nation, and also allows the President to propose a legislative agenda and national priorities.

On February 13, two organizations, the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Campaign for California Families, filed actions in San Francisco Superior Court seeking an immediate stay to prohibit the City from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [4] The court refused to issue an immediate stay on February 20. [5]

Campaign for California Families is a non-profit organization promoting socially conservative public policy in California, founded by Randy Thomasson, who also founded the Campaign for Children and Families. Campaign for California Families is best known for its successful effort to pass California's Proposition 22, which prohibited same-sex marriage before that measure was overturned by the decision in In re Marriage Cases in 2008. It also unsuccessfully attempted to legally intervene in the consolidated Strauss v. Horton case and in Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

On February 19, while defending its issuance of licenses in one court, the city initiated its own lawsuit against the state. It charged that the state statute defining marriage violated the state constitution by excluding same-sex couples. [6]

On February 20, 2004, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered state Attorney General Bill Lockyer to "obtain a definitive judicial resolution" of the controversy. [7] Speaking that same day at the state Republican convention, Schwarzenegger said: [5]

Arnold Schwarzenegger Austrian-American actor, businessman, bodybuilder and politician

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American actor, filmmaker, businessman, author, philanthropist, activist, politician, and former professional bodybuilder and powerlifter. He served two terms as the 38th Governor of California, from 2003 to 2011.

During my campaign, I talked about the importance of rule of law. We rely upon our courts to enforce our rule of law, but we're seeing in San Francisco that the courts are dropping the ball.... While we wait for the courts to act, it's time for the City of San Francisco to start respecting state law. It is time for the city to stop traveling down this dangerous path of ignoring the rule of law.

Lockyer responded by acknowledging his office had to defend state law "and allow the courts to determine whether the city has acted illegally", but said his political belief were sympathetic to issuing the licenses: [5] [8]

As a lifelong defender of civil rights, due process and equal protection for all, I do not personally support policies that give lesser legal rights and responsibilities to committed same-sex couples than those provided to heterosexual couples. That is why I have and continue to strongly support extending the benefits and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples through domestic partnerships and civil union statutes.

The Attorney General and a group of taxpayers filed separate petitions[ when? ] asking the California Supreme Court to issue an original writ of mandate. They asserted that the city's actions were unlawful and warranted the court's immediate intervention.[ citation needed ]

On March 9, the San Jose City Council, by a vote of 8-1, agreed to recognize any same-sex marriages of its employees performed in other jurisdictions. [9]

On March 11, the Supreme Court of California issued a stay ordering the County of San Francisco "to enforce the existing marriage statutes and to refrain from issuing marriage licenses not authorized by such provisions" pending further review by the court. Mayor Newsom agreed to abide by the order.[ citation needed ]

The Supreme Court's ruling did not alter a scheduled March 29 San Francisco Superior Court hearing before Judge Ronald Quidachay in which the Campaign for California Families and the Alliance Defense Fund claimed that San Francisco's granting of same-sex marriage licenses was illegal. Quidachay later delayed the hearing pending state Supreme Court action. [10]

On May 25, the state Supreme Court held hearings on the legality of issuing the licenses. San Francisco had wanted the question decided first by jury trials in lower courts rather than by the state Supreme Court. The Supreme Court suggested that San Francisco could file its own suit against the state, and the city filed such a suit that afternoon. [11]

On August 12, exactly six months after the first licenses were issued to same-sex couples in San Francisco, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the City and County of San Francisco had exceeded its authority and violated state law by issuing the marriage licenses. In a 5-2 decision in Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco, the court also declared all same-sex marriages performed in San Francisco on the basis of those licenses to be void. It expressed no opinion on the constitutionality of the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples. [12] [13]

Later developments

Following the decision in Lockyer, the City and County of San Francisco filed a suit in Superior Court, seeking a declaration that "all California statutory provisions limiting marriage to unions between a man and a woman violate the California Constitution." That action and a series of others brought by advocacy groups were consolidated in a single proceeding called In re Marriage Cases , [14] in which the California Supreme Court held on May 15, 2008, that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated the California Constitution. [15]

Political assessments

On February 18, 2004, President George Bush declined to say whether he thought a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage was needed, but said: [16]

I have watched carefully what's happening in San Francisco, where licenses were being issued, even though the law states otherwise. I have consistently stated that I'll support law to protect marriage between a man and a woman. Obviously these events are influencing my decision.

On February 24, he announced his support for a federal constitutional amendment that would "fully protect marriage while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage". His political supporters saw it as a way to underscore the fact that his likely opponent in the presidential race, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, had voted against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. [17]

Republican consultant Ed Rollins and California Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte thought scenes from these marriages would help recruit Republican voters to the polls in the 2004 election. On the other hand, Newsom and San Francisco successfully upstaged the Massachusetts marriages that occurred two months later, which would have reflected even more strongly on the Democratic presidential candidate that year, John Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts.[ citation needed ]

U.S. Representative from Massachusetts Barney Frank, himself openly gay, criticized San Francisco's actions, saying it was a "symbolic point" that diverted attention from the real struggle for gay rights. [18]

For a brief time following the San Francisco events, several city or county officials in Sandoval County, New Mexico, New Paltz, New York, Multnomah County, Oregon, and Asbury Park, New Jersey also issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [19] Officials in Benton County, Oregon were scheduled to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but reneged after the state's Attorney General said the county clerk would be arrested if any such licenses were issued.

Newlyweds David Michael Barrett & Mark Peters, Feb. 16, 2004 San Francisco 2004 same-sex weddings.jpg
Newlyweds David Michael Barrett & Mark Peters, Feb. 16, 2004

Notable marriages

See also

Related Research Articles

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References

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  3. "Gays rush to San Francisco to wed". BBC News. February 15, 2004. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  4. In re Marriage Cases, California Supreme Court, S147999
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  8. Chiang, Harriet; Wildermuth, John (February 21, 2004). "Governor demands end to gay marriage: Lockyer told to act against S. F.'s same-sex licenses". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
  9. "San Jose recognizes gay marriage". Chicago Tribune. March 10, 2004. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  10. "Herrera Files Briefs With Supreme Court on Issue of Municipal Authority for Same-Sex Licenses". Office of the City Attorney, San Francisco. March 11, 2004. Archived from the original on February 10, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  11. "California Same Sex Marriage Cases". C-SPAN. May 25, 2004. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  12. "California Court Nullifies Same-Sex Marriages". PBS News Hour. August 12, 2004. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  13. Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco (2004) 33 Cal.4th 1055 [95 P.3d 459, 17 Cal.Rptr.3d 225]
  14. In re Marriage Cases, California Supreme Court, S147999
  15. "California ban on same-sex marriage struck down". CNN. May 15, 2008. Archived from the original on December 2, 2010.
  16. "President 'troubled' by San Francisco's gay marriages". USA Today. February 18, 2004. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  17. Bumiller, Elizabeth (February 25, 2004). "Bush Backs Ban in Constitution on Gay Marriage". New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  18. "Mayor defends same-sex marriages". CNN. February 22, 2004. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  19. Pinello, Daniel R. (2006). America's Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage. Cambridge University Press. p. 19. ISBN   978-0521848565.
  20. "San Francisco weds gay couples", CNN.com, archived by archive.org
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  22. "Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell on '2020'". ABC News. March 11, 2004. Retrieved October 1, 2014.