California Same-sex Marriage Lawsuits to be Combined into One Trial

( [email protected] ) Jun 15, 2004 09:41 PM EDT

Lawsuits filed in California questioning the consitutionality of same-sex marriages will be consolidated into one case and will be tried in San Francisco, a state agency overseeing the courts said on June 11.

The decision to group the same-sex marriage cases was made in response to a petition from Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who felt the state of California it was the most efficient approach.

San Francisco Supreme Court Judge Richard Kramer has been assigned to handle the cases. He said on June 9 that the coordinated cases would avoid duplicative, costly and time-consuming legal wrangling as well as conflicting results.

The coordinated cases include one filed by a same-sex couple against Los Angeles County and a combined case filed by two conservative groups that challenge the actions of San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. Newsom alllowed the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples since February and was halted in March by the California Supreme Court. Another same-sex marriage case, filed in San Francisco, was too late to make Attorney General Lockyer's position but may join the coordinated group in the near future.

In August, the state's highest court is expected to deliver a decision to a May 25th hearing on whether Mayor Newsom overstepped his powers but does not address the constitutionality of same-sex marriages.

Whatever is decided in the San Francisco court regarding the pooled cases will be reviewed by the California Supreme Court when the case reaches the seven justices in about a year.

Proponents of same-sex marriage say the equal protection clause of the state constitution allows same-sex marriage while opponents say marriage defined to be between one man and one woman is upheld by Proposition 22.

There has been no trial date set.