MARRIAGE DIGEST: Same-sex 'marriage' legal battle begins in Calif.; Newfoundland, too?; Democrat wins in Washington state

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)--The court battle to legalize same-sex "marriage" in California got its start Dec. 22-23, when lawyers for both the city of San Francisco and homosexual activist groups asked a judge to throw out the state's marriage laws.

"The assertion that marriage is inherently heterosexual can no longer be maintained now that there are a number of jurisdictions that allow same-sex couples to marry," Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights argued, according to the Associated Press. Minter mentioned Massachusetts, Canada and Belgium as places that have same-sex "marriage."

Judge Richard Kramer heard arguments for two days and said he would rule after mid-January. Whatever he decides, the case is expected to end up before the California Supreme Court.

Even though same-sex "marriage" advocates suffered big losses at the ballot box in November -- with 11 of 11 states passing constitutional amendments banning it -- those same activists could have several victories on the horizon in 2005.

The Washington state Supreme Court will hear a same-sex "marriage" case in March. The New Jersey appeals court heard a similar case in December. Pro-family leaders aren't optimistic about the outcome in either state.

But California -- with its large population and vast influence -- would be the biggest victory yet for homosexual activists. The state legislature also is considering a bill that would legalize same-sex "marriage."

Lawyers for the city of San Francisco and for homosexual groups asserted that the marriage laws should be struck down in much the same way that laws banning interracial marriage were overturned decades ago.

Yet Glen Lavy of the pro-family group Alliance Defense Fund argued that the two should not be compared. Race, he argued, is an "immutable characteristic," and homosexuality is not.

"The state does not recognize marriage to give a welfare benefit to loving committed couples," Lavy told the judge, according to AP. "The fundamental right to marry has always been about procreation."

Rena Lindevaldsen, an attorney for the pro-family group Liberty Counsel, made a similar argument.

"[Homosexual couples] can't perform the basic functions of marriage," Lindevaldsen said, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. "There is a basic difference between opposite-sex and same-sex couples … the ability to procreate and, therefore, insure the existence and survival of our species."

California Senior Assistant Attorney General Louis Mauro asserted that the issue should be decided in the legislature.

"Complex social policy should not be determined in this courtroom," he told the judge, according to The Chronicle. "In other states, when courts got ahead of the legislative process, the voters amended the constitution [to ban same-sex 'marriage']."

Kramer gave no indication how he would rule, The Chronicle reported.

In May Massachusetts became the only state to legalize same-sex "marriage," thanks solely to a ruling by that state's high court.

NEWFOUNDLAND, TOO -- Newfoundland and Labrador became the seventh Canadian province Dec. 21 to legalize same-sex "marriage" after the provincial Supreme Court tossed aside current marriage laws.

Seven of Canada's 10 provinces now issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. In addition to Newfoundland and Labrador, they are: British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Of the three territories, the Yukon is the only one to legalize same-sex "marriage."

All of the victories for homosexual activists have come in courtrooms. But that could change in 2005, when the Canadian Parliament will take up a bill that would legalize homosexual "marriage" nationwide. Many observers expect it to pass.

DEMS. CLAIM WASH. WIN -- Democrats in Washington state scored a surprise victory in the hand recount of the governor's race when Christine Gregoire came out ahead by 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million ballots case. Republican Dino Rossi had led by 261 votes after the initial count and by 42 votes after the first recount.

It was the first time that a recount had changed the outcome of a statewide election in Washington.

Gregoire took the lead when more than 700 previously uncounted ballots surfaced in heavily Democratic King County, where Seattle sits, AP reported.

Gregoire was certified the winner Dec. 30, but Rossi isn't giving up. He is asking for a new election and is considering challenging the result in court.

Social conservatives believed a Rossi administration would have been helpful in the coming year, when the Washington state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a same-sex "marriage" case and the state legislature is expected to consider a constitutional marriage amendment.


For more information about the national debate over same-sex "marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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