California went ahead with implementing its Supreme Court’s ruling on homosexual "marriages" on Monday evening. Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, officiated over the ceremony of a lesbian couple to champion what he sees as a victory for the cause of equality.
As was announced by the Supreme Court on June 4, recognition of same-sex "marriages" went into effect at 5:01 p.m. local time. Dozens of gay and lesbian couples waited at county clerks' offices around the state seeking legal validation of their relationships.
Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, who initiated the legal battle that resulted in the state’s decision to strike down its marriage laws, presided at the ceremony of Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84 at City Hall. The lesbian couple was selected by Newsom because of the length of their relationship (55 years) and his view that they are pioneers of the gay rights movement, according to CNN.
The ceremony took place in room full of supporters while a small group of people protested gathered outside.
Newsom, who describes himself as a Catholic, credits his activism to the "Catholic formation" he received at the Jesuit-run Santa Clara University in Northern California.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles reacted to the situation by issuing a statement on behalf of seven bishops Monday, saying the Catholic Church "cannot approve of redefining marriage."
Marriage "has a unique place in God's creation, joining a man and a woman in a committed relationship in order to nurture and support the new life for which marriage is intended," the statement said. "The meaning of marriage is deeply rooted in history and culture, and has been shaped considerably by Christian tradition. Its meaning is given, not constructed. ‘When marriage is redefined so as to make other relationships equivalent to it, the institution of marriage is devalued and further weakened’.”
Clerks expect a much larger number of couples to show up on Tuesday to complete marriage-license applications that replace "Bride" and "Groom" with "Partner A" and "Partner B." In San Francisco, more than 600 same-sex couples are reported to have made appointments to get marriage licenses over the next 10 days.
With this latest ruling, California is only the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize same-sex marriage.
Shortly after the ruling went into effect the San Diego County-based United States Justice Foundation asked a Sacramento court to order the California agency responsible for marriages to stop the issuance of the new marriage licenses.
Gary Kreep, a representative of the foundation told the AP that his group filed a petition on behalf of five county supervisors from Yuba, Stanislaus, Nevada and Sutter counties. The petition argues the state Department of Public Health failed to hold legally required public hearings on the licenses and that the new licenses cannot be valid until state lawmakers rewrite marriage laws.
The California Supreme Court’s decision could be trumped in November 2008 if California voters approve an amendment to the state’s constitution defining marriage as “between a man and a woman.” The amendment was certified for the ballot on June 2 by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.