“San Francisco is proud”

Friends hold a wedding canopy over Rachel Lanzerotti, left, and Carol Cantwell as they kiss.
 
Picture:  SF Chronicle Kim Komenich
Friends hold a wedding canopy over Rachel Lanzerotti, left, and Carol Cantwell as they kiss.
Picture: SF Chronicle Kim Komenich
 
Monday, March 14, 2005
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Court invalidates California's ban on same-sex marriage

Gay and lesbian couples in California have a constitutional right to marry, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled Monday.
The ruling by Judge Richard Kramer is just the first step in a case that is headed for the state Supreme Court, probably sometime next year.  But it marks the first time that a California judge has declared unconstitutional the state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
"I never thought I would see it in my lifetime," a jubilant Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said outside the courthouse.  "It's an amazing day for justice, an amazing day for lesbian and gay families."
The ruling comes more than a year after about 4,000 same-sex couples exchanged marriage vows at San Francisco City Hall after Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered that the city clerk issue them marriage licenses.  The state Supreme Court declared the marriages invalid last August and ruled that Newsom had exceeded his authority in giving the marriages the go-ahead.
Monday's ruling did not revive those marriages but — if it stands — will allow same-sex couples to marry in the future.  Currently, only Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to wed.  A trial judge in New York has ruled that state's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.  That decision is on appeal, and a decision on same-sex marriage is pending in Washington state.
In his 27-page decision, Kramer — an appointee of former Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican — said the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates "the basic human right to marry the person of one's choice," and has no rational justification.
Rejecting California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's argument that California is entitled to maintain the traditional definition of marriage, Kramer said the same explanation was offered for the state's ban on interracial marriage, which was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 1948.
The judge also rejected arguments by opponents of same-sex marriage that the current law promotes procreation and child-rearing by a husband and wife.  "One does not have to be married in order to procreate, nor does one have to procreate in order to marry," Kramer said.
 
 

California Court Rules Same-Sex
Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

By DAVID STOUT
Published: March 14, 2005
A California judge ruled today that the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, despite social traditions and historical definitions that "marriage" is a union between man and woman.
Judge Richard A. Kramer of San Francisco Superior Court held, in an opinion that will surely be appealed, that "no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners."
While many aspects of history, culture and tradition are properly embedded in the law, Judge Kramer wrote, the prohibition against same-sex marriage is not.  "The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional," he wrote.
Today's ruling came in a lawsuit brought against the state by the City and County of San Francisco and a dozen same-sex couples who had been married there.  The suit was filed after the State Supreme Court ordered San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples because the practice violated state law.
That law is contrary to the spirit of the state Constitution, the plaintiffs argued, and today Judge Kramer agreed.
"Simply put, same-sex marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so before," the judge said
Attorney General Bill Lockyer has said he expected the case to reach the California Supreme Court, The Associated Press said.  It may first go to the State Court of Appeals, or it is possible the high court will bypass the appeals court and take the case directly.  In any case, Robert Tyler, a lawyer with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, which joined the case in support of the ban on same-sex marriages, told The A.P. his group would undertake an appeal.
Two bills are pending before the California Legislature that would put a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the November ballot, The A.P. said.  If California voters approve such an amendment, as did those in a dozen other states last year, the issue would largely be out of the reach of legislators and the courts.
Several trial judges around the country have ruled that bans on same-sex marriages violate state constitutions.  But despite the intense interest in the issue nationwide, there is no obvious path — yet — for it to reach the United States Supreme Court, since state courts have the power to interpret their own respective state constitutions.
But those bans could be put to a federal constitutional test if one state refused to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples who were legally married in another state.
Judge Kramer swept aside the State of California's argument that it was all right to define marriage strictly as a union between man and woman as long as same-sex couples enjoyed virtually the same rights as married couples.
"The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts: separate but equal," he wrote, alluding to the doctrine long used to justify racial segregation that the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1954 had no place in public schools.
The judge also dismissed the state's argument that marriage has long been recognized as existing primarily for the sake of producing children.  Judge Kramer said it was an "obvious natural and social reality that one does not have to be married in order to procreate, nor does one have to procreate in order to be married."
Setting aside the bar on same-sex marriage will not intrude on the state's legitimate regulation of marriage, like setting a minimum age for effective consent, the judge said.  "Thus, the parade of horrible social ills envisioned by the opponents of same-sex marriage is not a necessary result from recognizing that there is a fundamental right to choose who one wants to marry," he wrote.
 


















Paul Baumann gives Robert Allen a kiss outside San Francisco City Hall after being married, 2004.

Picture: SF Chronicle/Laci Atkins

  In this undated photo provided by HRC, Joe Solmonese stands for a portrait in March, 2005, in Washington D.C.

Solmonese  is taking over leadership of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, the largest national gay-rights group, at a time when the same-sex marriage debate rivals abortion for volatility and virulence.

Picture: AP/Judy  Rolfe

(left)
Paul Baumann gives Robert Allen a kiss outside San Francisco City Hall after being married, 2004.
(right)
In this undated photo provided by HRC, Joe Solmonese stands for a portrait in March, 2005, in Washington D.C.

Solmonese is taking over leadership of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, the largest national gay-rights group, at a time when the same-sex marriage debate rivals abortion for volatility and virulence.
Photos: SF Chronicle/Laci Atkins, AP/Judy Rolfe




Wedding cake celebrating gay marriages.

Picture: AFP/File/Hector Mata
  A couple recite their vows during their marriage at City Hall in San Francisco 2004.

Picture: AFP/File/Hector Mata  

(left)
Wedding cake celebrating gay marriages.
(right)
A couple recite their vows during their marriage at City Hall in San Francisco 2004.
Photos: AFP/File/Hector Mata







Supporters of gay marriage march down Market St. in San Francisco, Monday, March 14, 2005.

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer overturned California's ban on gay marriage Monday and said that withholding marriage licenses from same-sex couples trespasses on their civil rights.

Picture: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

  This 20 February 2004 photo shows a newlywed gay couple walking down the stairs of San Francisco City Hall.

Picture: AFP/File/Hector Mata  

(left)
Supporters of gay marriage march down Market St. in San Francisco, Monday, March 14, 2005.

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer overturned California's ban on gay marriage Monday and said that withholding marriage licenses from same-sex couples trespasses on their civil rights.
(right)
This 20 February 2004 photo shows a newlywed gay couple walking down the stairs of San Francisco City Hall.
Photos: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez, AFP/File/Hector Mata











Jeanne Rizzo, with son Christopher Bradshaw, speaks at a news conference at City Hall in San Francisco on Monday, March 14, 2005.

Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco County's trial-level Superior Court ruled Monday that California's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

Jeanne Rizzo and her partner, Pali Cooper, were among the 12 same-sex Bay Area plaintiffs.
Picture: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Reno Suttles, left, and his boyfriend Jason Seifert hug as they listen to a speaker during a rally in favor of gay marriage in San Francisco, on Monday, March 14, 2005.

Picture: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

(left)
Jeanne Rizzo, with son Christopher Bradshaw, speaks at a news conference at City Hall in San Francisco on Monday, March 14, 2005.

Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco County's trial-level Superior Court ruled Monday that California's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

Jeanne Rizzo and her partner, Pali Cooper, were among the 12 same-sex Bay Area plaintiffs.
(right)
Reno Suttles, left, and his boyfriend Jason Seifert hug as they listen to a speaker during a rally in favor of gay marriage in San Francisco, on Monday, March 14, 2005.
Photos: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi, AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez





















 Frank Capley, 29, and Joe Alfano, 33, hug after their wedding in City Hall.

Picture: REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Dutch couple Jos (left) and Jarko (right) De Witte van Leeuwen who are about to adopt a child from the United States in their new baby room.

A coalition of Dutch lawmakers representing a parliamentary majority presented a bill on Wednesday that would legalize the adoption of foreign children by gay couples and create greater equality for homosexual families.

The adoption of Dutch children by gay couples has been possible since same-sex marriage was legalized in the Netherlands in September 2000, but not cross-border adoption.

If passed, it will remove hurdles for children adopted by gays in general and resolve serious inheritance and legal parenthood issues, Jos an Jarko were among the first to wed after gay marriage was legalized in the Netherlands.

Picture: AP/Serge Ligtenberg  

(left)
Frank Capley, 29, and Joe Alfano, 33, hug after their wedding in City Hall.
(right)
Dutch couple Jos (left) and Jarko (right) De Witte van Leeuwen who are about to adopt a child from the United States in their new baby room.

A coalition of Dutch lawmakers representing a parliamentary majority presented a bill on Wednesday that would legalize the adoption of foreign children by gay couples and create greater equality for homosexual families.

The adoption of Dutch children by gay couples has been possible since same-sex marriage was legalized in the Netherlands in September 2000, but not cross-border adoption.

If passed, it will remove hurdles for children adopted by gays in general and resolve serious inheritance and legal parenthood issues, Jos an Jarko were among the first to wed after gay marriage was legalized in the Netherlands.
Photos: AP/Serge Ligtenberg




































 Tim Morano, left, and John O'Leary wait in line to marry at City Hall in San Francisco.

Picture: SF Chronicle/Liz Mangelsdorf 
Scott Ploetner, left, and Rick Van Bruggen kiss after their wedding ceremony in City Hall.
 
Picture: SF Chronicle/Liz Mangelsdorf

(left)
Tim Morano, left, and John O'Leary wait in line to marry at City Hall in San Francisco.
(right)
Scott Ploetner, left, and Rick Van Bruggen kiss after their wedding ceremony in City Hall.
Photos: SF Chronicle/Liz Mangelsdorf












 Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin delivers his speech as part of the debate on same-sex marriage legislation in the House of Commons in Ottawa, February 16, 2005.

Picture: REUTERS/Jim Young 
Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler (L) takes part in a Young Liberal rally in support of same-sex marriage in Ottawa, March 3, 2005.

Picture: REUTERS/Chris Wattie

(left)
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin delivers his speech as part of the debate on same-sex marriage legislation in the House of Commons in Ottawa, February 16, 2005.
(right)
Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler (L) takes part in a Young Liberal rally in support of same-sex marriage in Ottawa, March 3, 2005.
Photos: REUTERS/Jim Young, REUTERS/Chris Wattie
























Mike Holland and his partner Jim Gatteau drape themselves in red, white and blue in Sacramento, where hundreds rallied in support of same-sex marriage.

Picture: SF Chronicle/Paul Chinn
Peter Lepley and Mike Wilson proudly proclaim their married status from their car as they drive past City Hall.
  
Picture: SF Chronicle/Katy Raddatz

(left)
Mike Holland and his partner Jim Gatteau drape themselves in red, white and blue in Sacramento, where hundreds rallied in support of same-sex marriage.
(right)
Peter Lepley and Mike Wilson proudly proclaim their married status from their car as they drive past City Hall.
Photos: SF Chronicle/Paul Chinn, SF Chronicle/Katy Raddatz
























Two game rangers in South Africa become first gay couple in the continent to get married.
The grooms wore khakis and leather boots.   Two game rangers, Vernon Gibbs and Tony Halls, became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in South Africa on December 1, a day after President Thabo Mbeki's government authorised gay marriages.
Andrew Meldrum
Monday December 4, 2006
Guardian Unlimited
South Africa is the first country in Africa and the fifth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriages.
Gibbs and Halls tied the knot at 11 am on Friday, another same-sex couple married at 1 pm, and several other "pink weddings" took place over the following days in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The Rev Paul Mokgethi, of the Hope and Unity Metropolitan Community Church in Johannesburg, presided over a gay wedding on December 2.
He said he was pleased at all the news coverage of the same-sex marriages as this would help to educate people, making them more tolerant of homosexuality.
Most progressive constitution in world
"We had a wonderful wedding.   It was very emotional for us," Gibbs told Guardian Unlimited.
"South Africa has the most progressive constitution in the world, which protects all people against discrimination.   No gay could wish for a better constitution."
Gibbs, 38, and Halls, 51, run a guest lodge and animal rehabilitation centre in Riversdal, near the tourist centre of George, on the southwestern coast of South Africa.
Halls is British, and the couple first pledged loyalty to each other nine years ago in London, though that union was not legally recognised as a marriage.
"As soon as it became legal in South Africa, we wanted to get married, and we got a booking at the home affairs office in George," said Gibbs.
"We are so pleased we did it on December 1, World Aids Day.   We dedicate our marriage to all HIV/Aids sufferers and gay people who have experienced discrimination."
"We did not have a very romantic wedding night because we have two baby bat-eared foxes that kept us up all night wanting to be fed and cuddled.   And then someone brought in a black eagle with a broken wing and we had to take care of that.   Black eagles are highly endangered and very beautiful.   It's been very hectic."
Many businesses hope to cash in on the same-sex marriage celebrations.   The Sheraton hotel in Pretoria, in the shadow of the government's administrative offices, the Union Buildings, has already advertised to host special gay wedding functions.
A prominent jeweller in Cape Town offered a free pair of custom wedding bands, worth 20,000 rand (£1,400) to the first couple.   And quick to pick up on the legalisation, one of South Africa's most popular television soap operas, Isidingo, will feature a gay marriage this week.
"When people see something on a daily basis on TV and in the media, we know how powerful it is: they get used to it and see it as something normal," said Thuli Madi, director of the gay advocacy group Behind the Mask.
Despite the new law new, which gives same-sex couples the right to marry legally, many South Africans still oppose gay marriage and homosexuality.
Conservative churches have vocally stated their opposition to the marriages, and many traditional groups denounce homosexuality as "un-African".   And gay men and lesbians often face violence in Soweto and other townships across South Africa.
 
Supported struggle against apartheid
Many members of parliament of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), have voiced their disapproval, but the bill was passed because Mr Mbeki and other party leaders pressed all members to vote in favour of the legislation.
The ANC said the party must support the country's constitution, which was the first in the world to specifically prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Many gays and lesbians had supported the struggle against apartheid.
In contrast, many African countries make homosexuality a crime carrying severe punishments.
Even in South Africa, Gibbs and Halls have had a difficult time.   Their guest lodge, Arendehoogte, which means Eagle Heights in Afrikaans, was publicly vilified by the local Dutch Reformed church, which objected to the couple welcoming gay tourists.   The lodge was vandalised five times.
Gibbs and Halls pressed a lawsuit in the constitutional court.
Last year they won a public apology from the church, and the harassment ended.
"Since then we have not had any trouble," said Gibbs.
"After our marriage, Tony and I walked into the supermarket and I held my head up high and proud.
People greeted us.   They did not congratulate us on our marriage, but they acknowledged us just the same."
Gibbs said the advantages of being married included greater legal protection and better medical aid and pension benefits.   But for him, marriage is about much more.   "Marriage means a lifetime commitment.   It means to cherish, obey, love, honour.   It means through sickness and health," said Gibbs.   "All those relevant words I never thought would be for me.   And now they are."
 
   If God intended you to be lesbians,
then who am I to judge?

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