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San Francisco Continues to Defy State Law by Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses - 2004-02-18

The city of San Francisco continues to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, as two judges consider requests to stop the practice. Conservative groups are urging the courts to declare the unions invalid.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom says the city will keep sanctioning same-sex marriages until the courts say otherwise. Speaking on NBC television, he said, "I didn't go into this naively. I really didn't. We knew what we were doing on the basis of principle. We knew the challenges we had, especially in the courts. We knew we'd have to fight in the long run. And for me, this is just the beginning."

San Francisco started issuing same-sex marriage licenses Thursday, defying a state law that defines marriage in California as between a man and woman. The San Francisco mayor says he is upholding the California constitution, which demands that all citizens be treated equally, regardless of sexual orientation.

President Bush has commented on the issue, saying he is "troubled" by the same-sex unions, and first lady Laura Bush, who is now in California, says she finds the issue "shocking."

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also opposes the unions, and urges a quick resolution in the courts. Conservative groups have already filed two court actions. One judge has scheduled a hearing for Friday, and another has set a hearing for March. But in San Francisco, the ceremonies continue.

Unless the courts intervene, over 3,000 same-sex couples will have taken their vows by the end of the week.