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Lawyer Says Gays Are Unfit

The issue over the legality of the words, “I now pronounce you babe and babe” are being fought in a San Francisco Superior Court.

California- The future of same-sex marriage in California was left in the hands of a San Francisco Superior Court judge Thursday after a conservative group closed two days of hearings by arguing that gays and lesbians were inherently unfit for marriage.

“They can’t perform the basic functions of marriage,” said Rena Lindevaldsen, an attorney for the Campaign for California Families. “There is a basic difference between opposite-sex and same-sex couples … the ability to procreate and, therefore, insure the existence and survival of our species. ”

Also Thursday, attorneys for same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco made their final appeals to Judge Richard Kramer to overturn the state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. They contend that the law — passed in 1977, and reaffirmed by the voters in 2000 — violates the right to marry the person of one’s choice and discriminates on the basis of sex and sexual orientation.

By specifying the gender of a legal marriage partner, the state is “reducing individuals to their sex, and doling out rights on that basis,” said Deputy City Attorney Sherri Sokeland Kaiser.

She derided an argument by Lindevaldsen that the ban on same-sex marriage was designed to protect children by promoting families with biological ties. “Child abusers, child molesters, even child murderers can get married as long as they marry someone of the opposite sex,” Kaiser said.

An irritated Lindevaldsen accused the city of “mocking marriage.”

Kramer asked for further written arguments by Jan. 14 and is due to rule within 90 days of that date, the first step on a path that may lead to the state Supreme Court within a year. He left the door open, however, for further proceedings in his court over the validity of studies alleging that same-sex unions harm children.

The case arose from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s unprecedented order in February authorizing same-sex weddings at City Hall. Nearly 4,000 couples were married in a month, before the state Supreme Court halted the ceremonies, then nullified the marriages in August and ruled that Newsom lacked the authority to defy the state marriage law.

The court said it would not address the constitutionality of the law, however, until lower courts ruled on it. Lawsuits by San Francisco and by 12 couples in San Francisco and two in Los Angeles challenging the law have been assigned to Kramer along with countersuits by organizations seeking to uphold the law. The 57-year-old judge, a former business lawyer in San Francisco, was appointed to the bench by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1996. He has presided over a variety of civil and criminal cases but hasn’t refereed any social or political disputes comparable to the current case, and he gave little indication of his views during the hearing.

The state’s lawyer, Senior Assistant Attorney General Louis Mauro, made his defense of the state law Wednesday, arguing that California was entitled to preserve the historic definition of marriage while extending same-sex couples most of the rights of spouses in a domestic-partner law scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

A more far-reaching defense was voiced Thursday by organizations that backed Proposition 22, the 2000 ballot measure that prohibited California from recognizing same-sex marriages from any state.

The right to marry, recognized by state and federal courts, “cannot mean the right to marry anyone you choose,” said Lindevaldsen, an attorney with the religiously oriented law firm Liberty Counsel. Otherwise, she said, the state could not set minimum age limits for marriage or ban incest or polygamy.

Limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples who can raise their own biological children “brings stability to the society,” said Glen Lavy, an Alliance Defense Fund lawyer representing the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Kaiser, the city’s lawyer, countered that the state “does not evaluate parenting skills when handing out marriage licenses.” Defenders of the marriage law, she said, “only care about some children” and not the thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples in California.


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