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Gay-marriage ban overturned in Calif.

By Nicole Colson | March 18, 2005 | Page 2

"SAME-SEX marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so before."

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer--a Catholic Republican appointed by a former GOP governor--handed supporters of equal marriage rights a victory as Socialist Worker went to press, overturning California's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. "It appears that no rational purpose exists," he wrote, "for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners."

The ruling resulted from a lawsuit brought against the state by the City and County of San Francisco and a dozen same-sex couples who were married last year after Mayor Gavin Newsom--under pressure to deliver following a tight run-off election against Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez--began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of state law. More than 4,000 same-sex couples flocked to City Hall and were married before the state Supreme Court ordered the city to stop issuing the licenses.

In this latest case, the state argued that it was fine to define marriage as between a man and woman--as long as same-sex couples enjoyed virtually the same rights as married couples. But as Kramer wrote, "The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts: separate but equal."

Unfortunately, Kramer also stayed his ruling for 60 days in order to give opponents time to appeal the decision--which they undoubtedly will. Still, activists can use this new victory to renew the fight for equal rights in California.

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