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Groups vow to fight same-sex marriage

May 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gay rights advocates are celebrating the state supreme court's decision to overturn California's ban on gay marriage, although officials say same-sex couples probably won't be able to get married for about a month. But that could change, as conservative groups vow to fight the court's decision, and put it in the hands of voters.Traditional family groups are preparing to file for a "stay," which means if the state Supreme Court grants it, no same-sex marriages could be performed until after the November election, when voters decide whether to ingrain into the California Constitution a ban on same-sex marriages.

"We believe it's better to do the stay until the pending outcome of the initiative because it'll essentially save Californians a lot of confusion," said Everett Rice, California Family Council.

Without a stay, same-sex couples could get married as soon as the ruling takes effect in mid-June. And if California voters pass the ban then those ceremonies would have to stop.

One law expert says those marriages would remain valid because the voter initiative would not be retroactive.

"Those marriages that took place before the initiative goes into effect would be untouched," said Prof. Lawrence Levine, McGeorge School of Law.

But there are questions over whether the initiative would pass in the first place. Opinion polls among likely voters show sentiments changing over same-sex marriage.

Back in January of 2000, the Public Policy Institute of California found only 39 percent favored it, while 55 percent opposed it. Less than a year ago, it was virtual tie, with opponents holding on to a slight lead.

"All it does is allow people to be treated the same," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Mayor Newsom, who pushed the same sex marriage issue, has been burning up the airwaves since the ruling, confident voters will not pass what he calls discrimination.

"The fact is between now and November, tens of thousands of people will come together and they will get married legally in the state of California," said Mayor Newsom. "Then the voters will be asked to take that away. That's a very powerful question."

Backers of the Constitutional ban are not worried. In fact, they believe it'll rally supporters to the polls.

"The majority of Californians still feel that the traditional marriage is between a man and a woman," said Everett.

 

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