Friday, May 16, 2008

State Supreme Court says same-sex couples have right to marry

(05-15) 10:31 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry in California, the state Supreme Court said today in a historic ruling that could be repudiated by the voters in November.

In a 4-3 decision, the justices said the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates the "fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship." The ruling is likely to flood county courthouses with applications from couples newly eligible to marry when the decision takes effect in 30 days.

The ruling set off a celebration at San Francisco City Hall. As the decision came down, out-of-breath staff members ran into the mayor's office where Gavin Newsom read the decision.
Outside the city clerk's office, three opposite-sex couples were waiting at 10 a.m. for marriage certificates. City officials had prepared for a possible rush on certificates by same-sex couples, but hadn't yet changed the forms that ask couples to fill out the name of the "bride" and "groom."

Kenton Owayang, the office supervisor for the city clerk's office, said he's waiting for word from the state registrar's office about marriage forms and working on getting extra staff members in today in case the city is able to give out the certificates to same-sex couples.

Ed Harrington, the general manager of the city's Public Utilities Commission, was one of the staff members in the mayor's office shortly after the decision was released. Harrington has lived with his partner for 35 years and in 2004 Harrington married about 40 same-sex couples.
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