ACLU Urges California Trial Court to End Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples in Marriage

December 22, 2004 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO – The American Civil Liberties Union asked a California trial court today to strike down a state law that bans same-sex couples from marriage.

“Today’s hearing is an important step in the struggle for fairness for same-sex couples in marriage. We are optimistic that Judge Kramer will agree with us that the state can no longer deny same-sex couples the opportunity to marry,” said Christine Sun, a staff attorney for the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “No family should be denied the many legal protections and the social recognition that the state provides through marriage.”

Following a decision by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last February, the ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to strike down a state law that excludes same-sex couples from marriage. The lawsuit, Woo v. Lockyer, which was brought on behalf of 12 same-sex couples as well as Equality California and Our Families Coalition, charges that the law violates the state constitution’s guarantee of equality.

The City and County of San Francisco filed a similar case that has been consolidated with the ACLU case. Both cases will be argued before Judge Kramer in the Superior Court of San Francisco.

The 12 couples involved in this lawsuit have made life-long commitments to each other. Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin have been together more than 51 years. Karen Shane and Judy Sokolower have been together more than 32 years. The couples come from throughout the state and from all walks of life, ranging from a small business owner to a writer to a chiropractor. Many of these couples are raising children together.

“While the state has taken an important step forward by enacting comprehensive domestic partnership legislation, lesbian and gay couples are still treated as second-class,” continued Sun. “Imagine how difficult it must be for the children of same-sex couples when put in the position of having to explain why their mothers or fathers are barred from being married.”

A decision in the case is expected soon.

A copy of the complaint filed in the case is available at /node/36225

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