Saturday, February 21, 2004

just got home from a long TA session with matteo, where we spent more time bullshitting about the EU than we did talking about building institutions, which is the point of this course. before i say anything else about my cursed apartment, Sarah from my LRS seminar group forwarded this to us, and very appropriately so:

Judges delay rulings on gay marriages

By David Kravets and Lisa Leff

Feb. 17, 2004 | SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Two judges delayed taking any action Tuesday to shut down San Francisco's same-sex wedding spree, rebuffing conservative groups enraged that the city's liberal politicians had already married almost 2,400 gay and lesbian couples.

The judges took part in separate hearings. The second judge told the plaintiffs that they would likely succeed on the merits eventually, but that for now, he couldn't accept their proposed court order because of a punctuation error.

It all came down to a semicolon, the judge said.

"I am not trying to be petty here, but it is a big deal. ... That semicolon is a big deal," said San Francisco Superior Court Judge James Warren.

The Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund had asked the judge to issue an order commanding the city to "cease and desist issuing marriage licenses to and/or solemnizing marriages of same-sex couples; to show cause before this court."

"The way you've written this it has a semicolon where it should have the word 'or,"' the judge told them. "I don't have the authority to issue it under these circumstances."

Until they write their proposed court order correctly, Warren indicated he would not order an immediate halt to the marriages of gays and lesbians that continued throughout the day across the street at City Hall.

Lawyers for both sides then spent hours arguing about punctuation and court procedures; the hearing was still continuing late Tuesday afternoon.

Gay couples from as far as Europe have been lining up outside City Hall since Thursday, when city officials decided to begin marrying same-sex couples in a collective act of official civil disobedience.

Also Tuesday, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay said he was not prepared to rule until at least Friday in a separate challenge of the marriages.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has said the city will keep marrying gays until the courts order a halt, and then the city will pursue a constitutional challenge through the courts. Newsom says the equal protection clause of the California Constitution makes denying marriage licenses to gay couples illegal.

"What trumps any proposition is the California Constitution," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said Tuesday.

The conservatives want the courts to nullify the marriages and block the city from granting any more of the "gender-neutral" licenses.

The newly elected mayor's decision to permit gay marriages, while still legally unsettled, has intensified the national debate over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry and enjoy the many benefits only married
couples receive.

Quidachay told lawyers for the Campaign for California Families that they had not given the city enough notice to obtain an emergency injunction. "The court itself is not prepared to hear the matter," the judge said.

The conservative group said state law explicitly defines marriage as "a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman." The group also argues that San Francisco is violating a ballot measure approved by California voters in 2000 that said only marriages between a man and woman are valid.

"If the mayor can't read the law, we're hoping a judge can read it for him," said Randy Thomasson, the group's president.

Whatever the outcome of Tuesday's court hearings, the final word is expected to come later from the California Supreme Court, as both sides have promised to appeal.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in November ruled that the state's constitution permits gay marriages. Lawmakers there are debating a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

In Virginia, gay rights proponents scored victories in the conservative-leaning House of Delegates on measures involving access to health insurance and home loans.

The House, which last week passed a bill reaffirming the state's ban on gay marriage, narrowly passed legislation Monday that would allow employers to offer group insurance benefits to gay partners who live together. It rejected a measure seeking to make state mortgage loans available only to married heterosexuals or blood relatives.

After issuing a record 750 wedding licenses Monday, San Francisco City Assessor Mabel Teng estimated that 30 to 50 gay couples would be married Tuesday.

find it online at this site, as well as many others

this article is satisfying to so many parts of me: the punctuation/grammar nazi is chortling in glee, jumping up and down hand in hand with the homosexuality-is-not-a-crime/disease/evidence of abusive, evil childhood part of me, thrilled that the conservatives have been undone by their lack of punctuation skills. it's so funny it hurts.

and beyond that, i love the phrase 'official civil disobedience'. the very idea of it makes me happy.

what doesn't make me happy, however, is the fact that my cooking gas is not on, and the pilot lights on my stove have yet to be relit. (although the heating gas is back on, and the apartment is slowly warming up) time for me to head out to H's place yet again, to warm up before going to get something to eat!

oh, and if anyone is interested in a rant against SATC, wander over to ol' Dan's blog and see what he has to say. just so you know. =)


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