The sound you may be hearing from California is shouts of glee and jubilation, we can start getting married June 17. Or it may be the panties of the fundies getting suck up into a bunch.
State: Gay marriage will begin on June 17 in California
By LISA LEFF - Associated Press Writer
Published 2:04 pm PDT Wednesday, May 28, 2008
California counties can issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning June 17, the state said in a directive to court clerks issued Wednesday.
The state Office of Vital Records said it chose June 17 because the state Supreme Court has until the close of business on June 16 to decide whether to grant a stay of its ruling legalizing gay marriage.
Gay rights advocates and some clerks initially thought couples would be able to wed as early as Saturday, June 14 - exactly 30 days after the court's May 15 ruling. Supreme Court rulings typically become final after 30 days.
But a group opposed to gay marriage has asked the court to stay its decision until after the November election, when voters are likely to face a ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Passage of the initiative would overrule the Supreme Court.
Under the court's regular rules of procedure, justices have until the end of the day on June 16 to rule on the stay request, according to the memo sent by e-mail to the state's 58 county clerks. Lawyers involved in the marriage case have said the court could grant itself an extra 60 days to consider the stay.
The guidelines from Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health, also contain copies of new marriage forms that have lines for "Party A" and "Party B" where bride and groom used to be. The gender-neutral nomenclature was developed in consultation with county clerks, according to the memo.
"Effective June 17, 2008, only the enclosed new forms may be issued for the issuance of marriage licenses in California," the directive reads.
The amended forms also contain a change to accommodate same-sex couples who already have registered as domestic partners, a category created in 2003 that bestowed the legal rights and benefits of marriage to gay men and lesbians without the title.
The previous marriage license applications stated that people in domestic partnerships were barred from getting married, a prohibition based on the fact that same-sex couples could not legally wed. The new forms say domestic partners don't have to dissolve their partnerships if they are marrying the same person.
The guidelines were sent out on the same day a poll was published showing that more California voters now support allowing same-sex marriage than oppose it.
The results marked the first time in over three decades of Field Poll surveys that a majority of voters approved of extending marriage to gay couples than have disapproved, said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo.
"I would say this is a historic turning point or milestone," DiCamillo said.
The poll found that 51 percent of respondents backed legalizing same-sex marriage and 42 percent opposed it, DiCamillo said.
In 2006, when participants were asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of California allowing homosexuals to marry members of their own sex?" 44 percent said they approved and 50 percent objected. In 1977, the first year Field Poll posted the question to voters, 28 percent approved and 59 percent were opposed.
Field Poll surveyed 1,052 registered voters over the phone from May 17-26, in the days after the Supreme Court handed down its historic ruling. A smaller percentage of respondants- 48 percent - said they agreed with the court's decision and 46 percent disagreed.
DiCamillo said the jump in support for same-sex marriage indicates that voters were "influenced in some way by the judgment of the high court."
Voters were similarly divided on the subject of the proposed ballot initiative to put a gay marriage ban in the state constitution. Field Poll asked respondents about it two ways: once referencing the specific measure a group is seeking to get on the November ballot and once talking about a marriage amendment more generally.
Fifty-four percent opposed the amendment when presented with the issue generally, a figure that dropped to 51 percent when respondents were told they might have the chance to vote on a specific measure in November. Support for the amendment stood at 40 percent and 43 percent, respectively.
The Field Poll's findings conflict with a Los Angeles Times/KTLA poll of 705 voters released last week that found 54 percent backed the proposed gay marriage ban and 35 percent opposed it. The Field Poll survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points on the general amendment question, and plus or minus 5 percentage points on the more specific question.
Andrew Pugno, legal adviser for the coalition of religious and social conservative groups sponsoring the measure, said the Times poll is more consistent with his group's internal polling.
"We could acknowledge there has been increasing acceptance of the idea of gay relationships over the last 10 or 20 years, but we think when it comes to marriage there is still a solid majority who want to see it reserved for a man and a woman," Pugno said.