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Attorney General Lockyer Issues Statement on Same Sex Marriage Lawsuit Filed by San Francisco

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today issued the following statement in response to a lawsuit filed by the City and County of San Francisco seeking to compel the State of California to recognize and record marriage certificates issued to gay and lesbian couples in San Francisco:

"As Attorney General, it is my duty and responsibility to defend state departments and agencies, and the laws they administer which have been enacted by the Legislature and the people of California. The issue of whether state statutes prohibiting same-sex marriages violate Constitutional protections is emerging as one of the great legal and civil rights issues of our day, and the question must be answered by our courts. The people of California who enacted our laws and their state government which must carry out these laws deserve to have their position strongly represented in the courts, and my office will do that job.

"California's Family Code Section 308.5, added by Proposition 22 in 2000, states that only a marriage between a man and a woman will be valid or recognized in California. Other previously enacted sections of the law also define civil marriage in California to include only a man and a woman. Family Code Section 355 (a) requires the State Department of Health Services to prescribe the forms for marriage license applications. The department has stated it will not record licenses that have been altered.

"As a lifelong defender of civil rights, due process and equal protection for all, I do not personally support policies that give lesser legal rights and responsibilities to committed same-sex couples than those provided to heterosexual couples. That is why I have and continue to strongly support extending the benefits and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples through domestic partnerships and civil union statutes.

"But the people of California have spoken. State law prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages. It is the duty of my office to defend that law against this challenge by the City and County of San Francisco, and allow the courts to determine whether the city has acted illegally."

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