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Washington voters say ‘I do’ to same-sex marriage

In the Nov. 6 general election, Washington state voters passed Referendum 74, which legally recognizes same-sex marriages.

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court justices sounded closely split on gay marriage Tuesday, but Justice Anthony M. Kennedy suggested the court should strike down California’s ban on same-sex marriage without ruling broadly on the issue.

Twice during the oral argument, Kennedy questioned why the court had voted to hear the California case.  “I wonder if this case was properly granted,” Kennedy said at one point.

His comments suggested that the court’s four most conservative justices voted to hear the California case. Had the justices turned down the appeal, as Kennedy suggested, Proposition 8 would have been struck down on the grounds of a narrow ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


PHOTOS: Supreme Court considers gay marriage

Kennedy is likely to have the support of the court’s four liberal justices when they meet later this week to decide the California case. They could decide to write an opinion that strikes down the California ballot measure on the grounds that it denies same-sex couples a right to marry. Or they could vote to dismiss the appeal, which also would have the effect of voiding Prop. 8.

On several occasions, Kennedy and other justices said they were wary of ruling broadly in a way that would make gay marriage legal nationwide.

But at one point, Kennedy said upholding California’s ban on same-sex marriage would cause real harm. He said there were more than 40,000 children being raised by same-sex couples in California.

“It’s the voice of those children” that should be heard, he said. “They want their parents to have the full recognition” of marriage, he added.

For the complete Los Angeles Times story, go here.

 WASHINGTON – Four years ago, many gay rights advocates shook their heads when super-lawyers Theodore B. Olson and David Boies announced they would challenge California’s ban on gay marriages in federal court and take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was too risky, the skeptics said. Voters in state after state were rejecting same-sex marriage, and no federal judge had said such bans were illegal. One liberal legal scholar called the lawsuit a “Hail Mary” pass.


But now that Proposition 8′s ban on gay marriage is set for a hearing Tuesday before the Supreme Court, the lawyers and activists who started the case think they may be on the verge of a historic victory. Even the early doubters are hopeful. “We think the time is right,” said Los Angeles lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., Olson’s partner on the case. “Everything seems to be breaking in favor of marriage equality.”

FULL COVERAGE: Same-sex marriage

Olson and Boies are urging the court to rule that gays and lesbians have an equal right to marry under the Constitution, a decision that would not only strike down the California ban but could make gay marriage legal nationwide. That is “the right result,” Boies said last week. “There is no rational or legitimate reason for the government to deny marriage to these loving couples.”

That may go too far for the court’s majority. The conventional wisdom among legal experts is that the court will stop short of declaring that gays and lesbians have a right to marry nationwide. A narrow ruling voiding Proposition 8 would bring gay marriage to California, but it would not force a change in states where strong opposition to the idea remains. Nine states and the District of Columbia authorize same-sex marriages.

WASHINGTON – Hillary Rodham Clinton, free to dip her toe in the water of domestic politics after four years as the nation’s chief diplomat, joined other leading Democrats in endorsing same-sex marriage.

Clinton’s announcement – her first public statement since leaving her post as secretary of State in President Obama’s Cabinet on Feb. 1 – came Monday in a video released by the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights group.

“LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones. And they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage,” Clinton says in the video, adding that she supports marriage rights for same-sex couples “personally and as a matter of policy and law.”

Like many party leaders at the time, Clinton stopped short of support for same-sex marriage as a presidential hopeful in 2008, though she supported civil unions “with full equality of benefits, rights and privileges,” as she said in a 2007 debate. In another candidate forum, she said that the issue of gay rights “will remain an important one in our country” and, noting that Republicans had used the issue to drive conservative voters to the polls in previous elections, she said Democrats should stand “against hatred and divisiveness.”

Now, support for same-sex marriage is embedded in the party’s platform. Vice President Joe Biden, like Clinton a potential contender for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination, announced he supported gay marriage in May 2012, prompting the president to reveal his support days later.

Other possible candidates, including Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Martin O’Malley of Maryland, had already pushed their states to enact marriage equality laws. The issue has evolved so rapidly in contemporary politics that the announcement Friday from a leading Republican, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, supporting gay marriage sparked little response.

For the complete Los Angeles Times story, go here.

169401_prop8_1208_RCGWASHINGTON — California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriages in the state, should be overturned, the Obama administration plans to tell the Supreme Court.

An administration official confirmed that the Justice Department will file a brief in the case today. Officials would not discuss the legal arguments the brief would contain.

The decision to enter the case comes despite the president’s past position that marriage rights should be a state matter. In recent weeks, however, Obama increasingly has referred to same-sex marriage as an issue of civil rights.

Other administration officials have taken the same stance. In a television interview to be aired next week, for example, Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said that he saw marriage equality as “really the latest civil-rights issue.”

“It is the question of whether or not American citizens are going to be treated with equal protection of the laws,” Holder said in the interview with ABC News.

For the complete Los Angeles Times story, go here.

Same Sex Marriage Advocates Rally At San Francisco Court HearingWASHINGTON — The lawyers challenging California’s Proposition 8 urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to rule that gays and lesbians across the nation deserve an equal right to marry, ratcheting up the pressure on the Obama administration and the justices.

Rather than seek a narrow win based on the special situation in California, the legal brief argues that marriage should be available as a constitutional right to all loving and committed couples.

“We believe this is a matter of fundamental rights,” said Washington attorney Ted Olson shortly after filing his legal brief with the high court.

Next week, the Obama administration must decide whether to take part in the California case by filing a “friend of the court” brief.

For the complete Los Angeles Times story, go here.

GaryOLYMPIA — A Thurston County Superior Court Judge won’t perform same-sex marriages, citing “philosophical and religious reasons,” the Olympian reported Wednesday.

Judge Gary Tabor told the Olympian that he will not make himself available to perform gay marriages, and said he is not legally required to perform the ceremonies. According to the Olympian, Tabor also said he did not intended for his choice to be a political or legal statement, and added that many other judges are available to perform same-sex marriages.

Tabor has previously refused to perform marriages in the Thurston County Jail, the Olympian reported.

Tabor has served as a Thurston County Superior Court judge since 1996. He is a graduate of Oklahoma Christian Colleg. The school’s website said the school “honors God’s plan that sexual relations be a part of a marriage between a man and a woman.”

same sex marriageBusiness is brisk down at the King County Recorder’s Office, with 1,001 marriage licenses issued by noon Monday since same-sex marriage became legal on Dec. 6.

“December is typically our slowest month for marriage licenses, but due to the new marriage equality law, that’s not been the case this month,” Jon Scherer, recording manager, said in a statement. “Our volume of business this December has been more like a typical July, when we can issue as many as 2,000 marriage licenses.”

On Dec. 6 the Recorder’s Office handed out a record-breaking 489 marriage licenses over the course of 18-1/2 hours. And demand for same-sex marriage licenses doesn’t appear to be declining — the daily volume of applications at the Recorder’s Office is more than double the amount the office handles in a typical December.

“We expect that the demand for marriage licenses will continue to remain high for at least the next several months,” Scherer added.

samesexSEATTLE –It wasn’t just a ceremony but a celebration at Seattle City Hal Sunday as 140 committed couples exchanged vows.

And for many couples, including For Marji Lynn and Sue Hopkins of Seattle, it’s a moment 16 years in the making.

“We’re so excited to finally be able to make a commitment that means something to everyone,” said newlywed Sue Hopkins. “I don’t think we ever expected in our lifetime that this would happen.”

Already married once in Canada, Brian Ochalla and David Schowengerdt took the opportunity Sunday to renew their vows.

“I just think it’s wonderful to be recognized in the same way that every other couple is recognized when they get married,” Ochalla said.

Outside city hall, each couple was introduced to a crowd of people joining in the festivities.

The full day of “I do’s” led to the “Love Wins” event at the Paramount Sunday night. Inside, a room full of couples such as Steve Azzola and James South reveled in the right to marry.

“We were the last couple to be married there and to leave city hall and that was kind of special too,” Azzola said.

Couples that have been together for decades were staring at each other like newlyweds. Nothing has changed between them but everything has changed surrounding them.

Sara Lopez said of her fiancé Eleanor McElvaine, “We’ve been together for 25 years so this is our 25th anniversary year. It means a lot. All of the sudden it feels really different to have that acknowledgement, that public acknowledgement.”

Officials predict Dec. 12., or 12/12/12, will be another popular wedding day.

Local News

Same-sex marriage sets record in King County

photoKING COUNTY — With smiles and hugs all around, Gay Marriage became legal in Washington state at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

Nine hours later, it was breaking records.

Approximately 345 marriage licenses were issued by 9 a.m. According to the King County Executive’s Office, the number smashed the previous record of 212 marriage licenses issued in a day.

The King County Recorder’s Office opened at 12:01 a.m. to issue the licenses to a large line of couples waiting to wed.  More than 300 people were processed through the line by 4:30 a.m., officials said, with as many as 60 couples per hour processed during the peak.

The county typically issues about 100 marriage licenses per day.

“Everyone from the staff and volunteers to couples, family and supporters helped make this a festive and safe event,” said Norm Albert, director of the King County Records and Licensing Services Division. “King County staff are proud to take part in this historic event and meet the increased demand for marriage licenses after voters in our state approved Referendum 74.”

At one point in the night, the marriage equality hastag, #MEDayWA, was the number five trending topic on Twitter. As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Pierce County had processed 39 same-sex marriage licenses and Snohomish County had issued 17.

All couples who were issued a license on Thursday will have to wait until at least Sunday to make their marriage official, officials said, as the state requires a three-day waiting period before the marriage is approved. In Thurston County, a group of judges are planning to perform a wedding ceremony at midnight on Dec. 9 for the individuals who secured a license

The King County Recorder’s Office will stay open until 6:30 p.m. Thursday night. For information about marriage licensing, visit here.