Two conservative groups have challenged Mayor Gavin Newson’s authority to allow the same-sex marriages, arguing that it violates the state laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman. The city is expected to respond that it is acting under the state’s constitution, which guarantees equal protection for all Californians.
Since Thursday, when the option became open to them, same-sex couples have leaped at a chance to be legally married. Wearing tuxedos and lacy bridal gowns, sweatshirts and sneakers, they have camped out on the sidewalks for days waiting their turn, forging new friendships as they tried to ignore drenching rains. The line Monday wound for three blocks near the ornate City Hall, with shish kebabs, umbrellas, doughnuts, coffee and even breath mints being shared.
“It doesn’t matter what the courts do — I was married for a day in San Francisco,” said Maylene Kuahiwinui, 26, who hugged her partner of nine years, Charity, also 26, before pointing their van back toward Seattle on Monday.
With a national audience watching, both sides are expected to rely on an arsenal of legal arguments as they venture into new legal territory. “I think it’s impossible to predict what will happen,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law professor at the University of Southern California.
In a brief submitted Monday for a court hearing today, opponents argued that only judges can declare California’s prohibition on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional.
An attorney for one of the opposition groups, Terry L. Thompson of the Alliance Defense Fund, said, “Our position is very clear. This is a simple issue of legal anarchy.”
He said, “The mayor can’t decide what is constitutional or what is unconstitutional. Only an appellate court judge can do that, and that is the substance of our brief.”
Another of the groups challenging the same-sex marriage licenses is Campaign for California Families, a Sacramento organization that supported Proposition 22, the initiative voters passed in 2000 that bars same-sex marriages.
Mathew Stover, who is representing the group and its president, Randy Thomasson of Sacramento, in filing the suit, said they were seeking an injunction that would block the city from issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples. He said they expected to rely on a series of state laws that specifically state that marriage must be between a man and woman.
He also will ask Judge Ronald Quidachay to declare that the city’s actions are invalid, voiding the same-sex marriages that have taken place since Newsom ordered County Clerk Nancy Alfaro to begin issuing the licenses.