Same-sex marriages in Calif. start tonight

June 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tonight, two women in their 80's will become one of the first same-sex couples to get married legally in California. That's when the state supreme court's decision goes into effect, to overturn the ban on gay marriage. But, there's a last ditch effort to stop the marriages.

A conservative group behind the November ballot initiative to define marriage between a man and a woman said they are going to file in Sacramento superior court to try to put a stop to the marriage licenses being handed out to same-sex couples. It would be based on the administrative issues and difficulties for county clerks in California. A motion of stay has also been filed with the Board of Appeals - if accepted that would happen at 5:01 pm - when the California Supreme Court's May 15th decision is final.

As for same-sex marriage supporters, it's a historic day; clerks offices in Alameda County and Sonoma will stay open until 8:00 pm Monday night to dispense the marriage licenses. Most of the counties will issue same-sex licenses on Tuesday.

In San Francisco, there will be only one license issued Monday night and that is between 84-year-old Phyllis Lyon and 87-year-old Del Martin. Mayor Gavin Newsom will officiate in his city hall office. He picked them to be first in San Francisco because of their long relationship and status as gay rights pioneers. Mayor Newsom says he is aware of a backlash, while conservative groups behind the November ballot initiative feel that it's all a publicity stunt.

"It's not the end of the world that they said 'I do' today - maybe my life or my marriage is not hurt because of this. So that's what we want to challenge people to think and ultimately then act differently in the course of the events in the next few months - to start softening their negativity towards this issue, to realize that it is not the end of the world and the marriage instition is not going to cease to exist because a couple of 55 years got married," said Mayor Newsom.

"I think there has been a near masterful manipulation of the media up to now in the proponents of same sex marriage carefully putting forth only the most well groomed television friendly kind of couples in an effort to present the case of - we're just like you," said Steve Crampton, Liberty Council.

California is also the only state in the nation to marry same-sex couples from other states, however, their marriages will only be recognized by a handful of states including New York and Massachusetts. Legal scholars say it's unclear if the ballot initiative passes, if the ban would be passed retroactively - so they expect a lot of same sex couples to get married before November.

Oakland mayor Ron Dellums will perform ceremonies for same-sex couples today, in Alameda County. Just head down to 1106 Madison Street in Oakland -- between 5:01 and 8:01 tonight.

Officials in Sonoma County will also marry couples tonight at the county clerk's office at 2300 county center drive in Santa Rosa. There are three counties where clerks are refusing to perform same-sex marriages: they are Butte, Calavaras and Kern Counties. They say they can't handle the increased demand.


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