FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | April 15, 2005
(San Francisco, CA, April 15, 2005) — San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer has issued a final decision and judgment in the California marriage equality case, confirming his earlier ruling that California must permit same-sex couples to marry. "Judge Kramer has confirmed his historic ruling on behalf of freedom and equality for same-sex couples," said Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who represents Equality California, Our Family Coalition, and twelve same-sex couples, including Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, the first couple to be issued a marriage license in San Francisco in February, 2004. The California Supreme Court subsequently invalidated their license, along with those issued to more than 4,000 other couples who married in San Francisco last year, but did not rule on whether excluding same-sex couples from marriage violates the California Constitution.
On March 14, 2005, Judge Kramer issued a tentative decision holding that California must permit same-sex couples to marry. On April 13, 2005, Judge Kramer finalized that decision and entered judgment for same-sex couples and the City of San Francisco, which also was a party in the case. The final decision clarifies that California's current marriage laws discriminate on the basis of gender and violate the fundamental human right to marry.
Judge Kramer rejected the State's argument that tradition justifies the exclusion of lesbians and gay men from such an important right. "Simply put," he states, "same-sex marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so before." Judge Kramer also rejected the State's argument that providing same-sex couples with domestic partnership, is an adequate remedy for excluding them from marriage. "The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts: separate but equal." The decision declares California's discriminatory laws to be unconstitutional and orders the State Registrar to issue gender-neutral marriage licenses.
Now that Judge Kramer has finalized his opinion and entered judgment, any party who wishes to appeal the decision to the California Court of Appeal has sixty days to do so. Judge Kramer stayed his decision pending a final resolution of the case by the appellate courts.
California so far is the only state in which same-sex couples have been supported by a local government, in this case, the City of San Francisco, represented by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Chief Deputy Therese Stewart.
NCLR's co-counsel in the case are Stephen V. Bomse, Christopher Stoll, Richard DeNatale, and Ryan Tacorda of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP, Jennifer C. Pizer of Lambda Legal, Christine Sun of the ACLU, David C. Codell of the Law Office of David C. Codell, and Clyde J. Wadsworth and Dena L. Narbaitz of Steefel, Levitt & Weiss.
To read Judge Kramer's decision or find more information about the case, check the following links:
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.