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California same-sex marriage licenses possible in June

  • Story Highlights
  • Court officials said licenses could be given out next month
  • California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage
  • That ruling earlier this month found the ban unconstitutional
  • June 16 is the last day the state Supreme Court can rule on a re-hearing
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(CNN) -- Same-sex couples in California may be able to obtain marriage licenses on June 17, state officials said Wednesday.

Marriage licenses for same-sex couples may be available in June, officials said.

The California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in a May 15 ruling, clearing the way for the state to become the second to legalize such marriages.

The state Department of Public Health -- which serves as State Registrar and oversees vital records -- said in an announcement that June 16 is the last day the state Supreme Court can rule on any requests for re-hearing. It released new marriage license forms for counties to use beginning the following day.

The new forms, which were also released, have lines for "Party A" and "Party B."

However, the "general information" page for California marriage licenses still stated as of Wednesday that "only an unmarried male and an unmarried female may marry in California."

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The California Supreme Court issued the ruling in a consolidated case involving several gay and lesbian couples, along with the city of San Francisco and gay rights groups. A lower court had ruled San Francisco acted illegally in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004.

In its 4-3 ruling, the state Supreme Court called marriage a "basic civil right."

Opponents of same-sex marriage have said a constitutional marriage amendment should be placed on the November ballot, and that national efforts should be made to generate a federal marriage amendment.

A constitutional amendment initiative that would specify marriage is only between a man and a woman is awaiting verification by the California Secretary of State's office after its sponsors said they had gathered enough signatures to place it on a statewide ballot.

Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriages in 2004, and gay couples need not be state residents there to wed. However, then-Gov. Mitt Romney resurrected a 1913 law barring non-resident marriages in the state if the marriage would be prohibited in the partners' home state.

Subsequent court and agency decisions have determined that only residents of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Mexico may marry in Massachusetts, unless the parties say they plan to relocate there after the marriage.

New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut permit civil unions, while California has a domestic-partner registration law. More than a dozen other states give same-sex couples some legal rights, as do some other countries.

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