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Same-sex marriage decisions delayed

Mayor: 'Eventually we are going to succeed'

Judges have postponed deciding two separate cases involving the legality of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Judges have postponed deciding two separate cases involving the legality of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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CNN's David Mattingly on two judges delaying decisions on San Francisco's same-sex marriage licenses.
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CNN's Miguel Marquez on gay and lesbian couples rushing to marry in San Francisco.
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As San Francisco churns out licenses, a conservative group heads to court to try to block them.
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San Francisco (California)

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- Two judges have delayed decisions that could have stopped San Francisco's issuance of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, allowing the city to issue the licenses until at least Friday when the next hearing is scheduled.

Nearly 2,500 gay couples have been married in San Francisco since Thursday, including 825 in a chilling rain on Monday.

In two separate cases, judges postponed making decisions which could have voided the licenses, ordered the city to stop granting them or declared the practice legal.

Mayor Gavin Newsom told CNN the delays should be considered victories. He said the city will continue to avoid discrimination by offering marriage licenses to same sex couples.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge James Warren heard the case filed by the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund. The group is seeking an injunction to bar the issuance of licenses.

Early in the hearing, Warren said he was leaning toward letting the marriages continue until constitutional issues in the matter are resolved.

The plaintiffs argued that Newsom has no constitutional authority to grant city employees the right to issue gay and lesbian marriage licenses, and to use city resources to do so.

Warren acknowledged the plaintiffs' argument that the city is breaking state law by issuing the same-sex marriage licenses but gave the city the choice of either immediately ceasing to issue the licenses or continuing to grant them until city attorneys return to court March 29 to show cause as to why the mayor's action is allowable.

Earlier Tuesday in a similar hearing, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay heard arguments in a case filed by Campaign for California Families and the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group.

Quidachay delayed his decision because he received two different versions of the complaint

Quidachay asked attorneys for the city and the two conservative groups to work together to present the correct documents to the court Friday.

One legal expert said that because so many of those tying the knot are from outside California, the case could wind up in federal court. Couples have been traveling to the city to marry because San Francisco does not require proof of residency to wed.

"State law of California says that marriage is only for a man and a woman," Randy Thomasson, executive director for the Campaign for California Families, said. "The renegade mayor of San Francisco is violating the state law. He's pretending to be a dictator. He's imposing his own values upon the citizenry, and he is really out of order."

Mayor Newsom said Tuesday that marriage between same-sex couples is "inevitable" and that anything less is "fundamentally wrong." Newsom has promised to "fight hard" for his position.

"There's also a constitution in the state of California that I swore to uphold just 39 days ago," he said on CNN's "American Morning."

"The bottom line is I took an oath of office and read that constitution, and nowhere in there did it say that I should discriminate."

Trumpets, a mariachi band and showers of bubbles

Each couple paid $82 for a marriage application and a $13 license fee in exchange for the certificate.

As newlywed couples emerged Monday from the rotunda of San Francisco City Hall proudly holding their marriage licenses, they were greeted by trumpets, a mariachi band and showers of bubbles. Cars driving by often honked their horns in support and the crowd outside cheered.

Newsom, when told what Thomasson had said, laughed politely said he doesn't "see the world with the same set of eyes that [Thomasson] sees the world."

"I see a world that I saw over the course of this weekend where people were literally ... coming together because they have been in a loving relationship for decade after decade, and they want the same privileges and rights and obligations that were extended to my wife and I," Newsom said.

"That's the kind of world that I want to live in," Newsom said. "That's the kind of world that I think the constitution of the state of California, for that matter, the U.S. Constitution, provides and protects."

The court challenges are based on a 2000 state ballot initiative approved by voters that declares that California recognizes only marriages between a man and woman.

Newsom said that he and the hundreds of couples who have been married "know the limitations, know the challenges and know the hurdles" that face them.

Citing the fight to make interracial marriage legal in the United States -- from 1948 to 1967, "the year of my birth," Newsom said -- the mayor said he was not content to wait for what he sees as "inevitable."

"It's a question of time," he said. "If we don't succeed today, or we don't succeed in the courts, because of the actions we took in the last few days ... eventually we are going to succeed."

The long-held bans on interracial marriages were "fundamentally wrong," he said, as are bans on gay marriages that prevent couples "like Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, who have been together for 51 years, [from being] able to consummate that in the way my wife Kimberly and I were able to do."

Lyon and Martin, who in 1955 founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian organization in the country, were the first same-sex couple to be married in San Francisco on Thursday.

The issue of gay marriage could become heated during this election year.

Thirty-eight states have laws forbidding recognition of gay marriages.

President Bush in his State of the Union address said he was prepared to support a constitutional amendment to prevent "activist judges" from "redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives."

The issuing of the licenses in San Francisco began as lawmakers in Massachusetts debated a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

After a third attempt to pass the measure failed Thursday, the Legislature recessed its constitutional convention until March 11, when it is expected to take up the issue again.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ordered the Legislature to allow gays to marry by May.


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