Attorney General Bill Lockyer Issues Statement in Response to California Supreme Court Decision in Same Sex Marriage Case

Thursday, August 12, 2004
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SAN FRANCISCO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today issued the following statement in response to the California Supreme Court's decision in Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco and Lewis v. Alfaro:

"Today's ruling clarifies the obligation of local government officials to respect state statutes and preserves the rule of law in California.

"I am pleased that the court has reaffirmed the important legal principle that non-judicial elected officials do not have the authority to unilaterally declare a state law unconstitutional. If the court had ruled otherwise, local elected officials throughout the state would have license to ignore any state laws they disagree with whether for personal, philosophical, or political reasons. Our form of government provides effective and democratic methods to change the law through legislative action, or by challenging it through judicial review.

"I respect the committed, loving relationships of those couples who were married in San Francisco, but these marriages cannot be recognized under California law until such time as the law is changed by the voters or declared unconstitutional by the courts.

"Since February when the City and County of San Francisco started issuing same-sex marriage licenses, the issue has become a national controversy. Unfortunately, many have seized upon the matter to issue a political battle call to arms, and drive a wedge between Americans to help elect like-minded candidates for political office. The President of the United States has endorsed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages, and more than a dozen states are actively considering a ban on same-sex marriages in their own state constitutions. These efforts to politicize one of the most significant civil rights questions of the day are unfortunate and unworthy.

"As Attorney General, my duty is to defend validly-enacted California laws. My colleagues in Massachusetts, Oregon, New York and Washington are similarly defending their own statutes that limit marriage to a man and a woman.

"Regardless of my personal views about same-sex marriages, I have defended, and will continue to defend, California law. The coordinated cases being adjudicated by the San Francisco Superior Court will proceed on the question of whether state law limiting marriage to one man and one woman is constitutional. Regardless of how that court rules, I anticipate that the case will not be finally resolved until the California Supreme Court makes a final determination. Until that time, I will continue to defend state statutes - including California's historic domestic partner law, which is under attack by the Alliance Defense Fund."

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