City leaders react to same-sex marriage ruling
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
October 5, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A state appeals court in San Francisco
ruled today that same-sex couples do not have a right to marry
under the California constitution.
A Court of Appeal panel by a 2-1 vote upheld state laws requiring
marriage to be between a man and a woman.
Justice William McGuinness wrote in the majority decision, "Courts
simply do not have the authority to create new rights, especially
when doing so involves changing the definition of so fundamental
an institution as marriage."
The court majority said the Legislature and voters had a rational
basis for restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples while at
the same time giving same-sex couples equal benefits through the
state's domestic partnership system.
McGuinness wrote, "By maintaining the traditional definition
of marriage while simultaneously granting legal recognition and
expanded rights to same-sex relationships, the Legislature has
struck a careful balance to satisfy the diverse needs and desires
McGuinness, joined in the majority by Justice Joanne Parrilli,
said, "The time may come when California chooses to expand
the definition of marriage to encompass same-sex unions,"
but said that change must come from the Legislature or a voter
Justice Anthony Kline said in a dissent that he believes same-sex
couples have a constitutional privacy right to marry.
The final decision in the case will be made by the California
Supreme Court, however.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and lawyers from the
National Center for Lesbian Rights both promised to appeal to
the state high court.
Herrera said, "This is a disappointing ruling but it is
only the second round in what we have always known would be a
Herrera said, "We look forward to making our case in the
California Supreme Court and we are confident we will succeed."
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom also commented on the ruling
at a news conference today at City Hall. He said the decision
was "a bit disappointing" but "not shocking."
"This is inevitably going to the Supreme Court," Newsom
said. "That's where it ultimately belongs. It doesn't belong,
respectfully, to the majority."
In the first round of the case, San Francisco Superior Court
Richard Kramer ruled last year that same-sex couples had a right
to marry. Today's decision overturns that ruling.
National Center for Lesbian Rights attorney Shannon Minter, who
represents 12 gay and lesbian couples, said, "We are optimistic
that the California Supreme Court will affirm the trial court's
historic ruling and strike down one of the last remaining laws
to discriminate against an entire group of people in this state.''
The state laws were defended by California Attorney General Bill
Lockyer spokesman Nathan Barankin said today that the court agreed
with Lockyer that "a fundamental policy change is a decision
best left to the voters and the Legislature."
Barankin said, "Our position from the beginning has been
that the law will remain uncertain until the California Supreme
Court has a chance to review it or to make a determination not
to review it. The state attorney general's office will continue
to defend state law."
The decision was made in six consolidated lawsuits. Four of the
lawsuits, filed by the city of San Francisco and a total of 20
same-sex couples, supported same-sex marriage. Two other suits
filed by traditional values groups opposed it.
Glen Lavy, a lawyer for one of those groups, the Proposition
22 Legal Defense and Education fund, said, "The court today
recognized that political special interests shouldn't trump what's
in the best interest of families and children."
Proposition 22 was a state voter initiative defining marriage
as being between a man and a woman.
Lavy said, "No matter how many times activists try to redefine
it, marriage means one man and one woman. Everything else is counterfeit."
Molly McKay, media director of Marriage Equality USA, a gay rights
group, said, "Though we are disappointed, we always knew
this issue was going to be decided by the California Supreme Court."
Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication,
Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent
of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.