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Gay couple sues to win marriage license

'This is a civil rights demonstration'

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A gay couple has filed suit challenging the denial of a request for a marriage license in Los Angeles County.

At a news conference Monday at the law offices of their attorney, Gloria Allred, the two men said they went to the Beverly Hills Courthouse this month seeking a license but were denied "solely because of sexual orientation."

The Rev. Troy D. Perry and his partner of 18 years, Phillip Ray DeBlieck, were married in Canada in July 2003.

Perry founded the Metropolitan Community Churches, "a worldwide fellowship of Christian churches with a special outreach to the world's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities," according to its Web site.

They said they want to be married in California, the state in which they reside, to give them the recognition and rights afforded by marriages between men and women.

"We have tried everything in our power to marry legally. We have tried holy unions, we have tried demonstrations, we have done everything -- we have led those," a tearful Perry said, holding his partner's hand.

"But the point comes when this country has to say yes to us. This is a civil rights demonstration. It's not about a press conference today, it's about change."

The couple had also tried unsuccessfully to obtain a license at Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys.

"This is such an emotional issue for us," Perry said.

"We would just like to see that our relationship is acknowledged and validated in the eyes and hearts of our countrymen," DeBlieck said.

Their attorney said it is unfortunate that Los Angeles County denied them the right to marry.

"Denial of the marriage license violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law, due process and the right to enjoy and defend life," Allred said.

In a prepared statement, Allred also took a shot at California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who directed the state's attorney general last week to stop the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco. (Full story)

Allred said the governor was using the issue to rally the "Republican faithful."

"Whether a minority may be denied constitutional rights is not a question which will ultimately be decided by a pandering politician who aspires to be president," she said.

Allred is known for taking high-profile cases.

She represented one of the women during last fall's gubernatorial recall campaign who accused Schwarzenegger of sexual misconduct over the years. Schwarzenegger denied the allegations. (Full story)

Allred also represented Amber Frey, the woman who said she had an affair with Scott Peterson before he was accused of murdering his wife and unborn son. (Full story)

No hearing date has been set in the same-sex suit.

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