FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | March 11, 2004
(San Francisco, CA, March 11, 2004) — This afternoon, the California Supreme Court issued an order temporarily directing San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco. The Court said it would hear a case in May or June on the issue of whether Mayor Gavin Newsom and the City of San Francisco had the authority to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer and a conservative group had asked the seven justices on California's highest court to block further issuance of marriages licenses, to invalidate the more than 3,700 marriages already performed, and to refund the marriage license fees paid. The Court did not rule on the underlying questions of whether it violates the California Constitution to deny same-sex couples the right to marry or the validity of the marriage licenses that have already been granted. Rather, the Court simply set a briefing schedule and a timeline for the hearing, and ordered San Francisco to stop issuing licenses until the California Supreme Court resolves the issues presented in the cases.
National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell issued the following statement.
"We are disappointed that for a time lesbian and gay couples will no longer be issued marriage licenses from the City and County of San Francisco," said Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights. "However, we are confident that the Court will ultimately conclude, as did San Francisco Mayor Newsom and the City Attorney, that excluding lesbian and gay couples from the benefits and obligations of legal marriage offends the promise of equality of the California Constitution."
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, who are the lead Intervenors in both trial court actions issued the following statement. Martin and Lyon have been a committed couple for over 51 years. They were the first same-sex couple married in San Francisco.
"On March 12th, we will celebrate the 1 month anniversary of our legal marriage. We hope and believe that in the not too distant future all lesbian and gay couples will likewise have the opportunity to marry legally and enjoy government respect and recognition of their relationships. We consider today's ruling by the California Supreme Court simply to be a pause on the road to full equality and celebration of our relationships."
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.