Couples Challenge Marriage Discrimination in California

March 12, 2004 12:00 am

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Legal Groups Say Denial of Marriage Licenses Violates State Constitution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SAN FRANCISCO — The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal today filed a lawsuit arguing that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates the California Constitution’s guarantees of equality, liberty, and privacy.

“”We are eager to take on this historic opportunity to end marriage discrimination in California,”” said Tamara Lange, a staff attorney for the ACLU. “”Marriage is a commitment. It is about sharing, love, trust, and compromise. Two adults who make this personal choice to form a life-long commitment should not be denied the right to marry just because they are gay or lesbian.””

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six same-sex couples, five of whom had upcoming appointments to obtain marriage licenses at San Francisco City Hall. The couples had their appointments cancelled as a result of the California Supreme Court’s order issued yesterday directing San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Two organizations, Our Family Coalition and Equality California, are also parties in the case.

The couples in the lawsuit are:

  • Lancy Woo and Cristy Chung, who have been in a committed relationship for 16 years. They have a five-year-old daughter, Olivia. Lancy and Cristy had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall on March 30th.
  • Joshua Rymer and Timothy Frazer, who have been in a committed relationship for more than 10 years. Joshua and Tim met in 1994 and exchanged wedding rings in a private ceremony in 1995. They had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall at 2 p.m. on March 17th and were planning to have a small ceremony at City Hall, to be followed by a reception and renewal of vows at their home in Sonoma.
  • Jewell Gomez and Diane Sabin, who have been together for 11 years. Jewell is a writer and the Program Director at the San Francisco Arts Commission. Diane is a chiropractor. Diane and Jewell had obtained an application for a marriage license and intended to marry.
  • Myra Beals and Ida Matson, who are 61 and 68 years old, respectively, and have been in a committed relationship for 27 years. They had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall on Friday, March 12, 2004 – one day after the California Supreme Court ordered San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Friends and family had made plans to join them in San Francisco on March 12 to celebrate their marriage with them.
  • Arthur Frederick Adams and Devin Wayne Baker, who have been in a committed relationship for three and a half years. Arthur and Devin had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall at 3 p.m. on March 11th. They bought wedding rings and arrived at San Francisco City Hall at about 2:45 p.m. on March 11, along with several family members and friends who were there to witness and celebrate their wedding. Arthur and Devin were in the process of completing an application for a marriage license when they were informed that no further marriage licenses would be issued to same-sex couples.
  • Jeanne Rizzo and Pali Cooper, who have been together in a committed relationship for 15 years. Jeanne and Pali had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall at 3:00 p.m. on March 11th. They arrived at San Francisco City Hall on that date, accompanied by about 50 family members and friends, including many who had traveled from out of state to attend their wedding celebration. Jeanne and Pali were on the steps of City Hall with their family members when they were told that no more marriage licenses could be granted.

The two organizational plaintiffs in the suit:

  • Our Family Coalition is a San Francisco Bay Area organization dedicated to promoting the civil rights and well being of families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members.
  • Equality California is the leading state-wide advocacy group protecting the needs and interests of same-sex couples and their children in California.

The Complaint is available at /node/36225


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