Groups push for gay marriage amendment

February 14, 2008 7:14:31 PM PST
Valentine's Day, exactly four years ago, San Francisco made international headlines when Mayor Gavin Newsom decided that gay couples should be allowed to marry.

Today's anniversary is especially significant because California's Supreme Court is preparing to consider the constitutionality of gay marriage.

It's a valentine's ritual organized year after year. Same sex couples head to county clerk's offices around the nation asking for marriage licenses to spotlight their inability to wed.

"We really want our love to be recognized and we want the protections and legal rights that come with marriage," said Oakland resident Sharon Papo.

"Unfortunately I can't help you today," said a San Francisco county clerk.

It was a different response four years ago when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the clerk to change the rules. Today Mayor Newsom says his move advanced gay rights.

"In this country we do not believe in separate and equal, so eventually we'll get it right," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Before the courts stepped in, more than 4,000 couples tied the knot including Michael Albert and Clarence Franks.

"Absolutely magical it was an amazing time, a place of such unbridled joy," said San Francisco resident Michael Albert.

That's not how critics saw it. The campaign for children and families is adamantly opposed to same sex marriage.

"Most people just shake their heads at this stunt happening. It's an attempt to destroy the definition and the vote of the people of California who have already said keep marriage between a man and a woman," said Randy Thomasson from the Campaign for Children and Families.

Thomason's group is part of the on-going legal battle which is about to take a giant step.

Here's the chronology:

February 12, 2004 the marriage licenses are issued. March 11th the state Supreme Court orders a halt, ruling the mayor has no authority to get involved and invalidating the marriages.

March of the following year a superior court judge rules the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. October 2006 an appeals court panel overturns that ruling. Next month, a decisive showdown on the constitutionality issue heads to the California Supreme Court.

The state supreme court is expected to issue its ruling within 90 days after hearing the case.