Federal Judge Permits CCF to Join Case Challenging Ca. Marriage Laws

A judge overseeing consolidated cases seeking to declare California's marriage law unconstitutional has granted Campaign for California Families full party status.
( [email protected] ) Oct 16, 2004 12:09 AM EDT

A federal judge overseeing consolidated challenges to California’s marriage law granted Friday full party status to Campaign for California Families, a conservative group which originally filed suit against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in February to stop him from granting marriage licenses.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer rejected a request to dismiss CCF from the group of cases involving California’s ban on same-sex “marriage.” CCF, represented by Liberty Counsel, will join California Attorney General Bill Lockyer in defending the ban.

Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel, praised the decision.

“We are pleased that Judge Kramer granted full party status to Campaign for California Families to defend California’s marriage laws,” Staver stated. “Judge Kramer clearly recognizes the benefit of hearing all sides of the marriage debate, not just those arguments advanced by the same-sex couples and the Attorney General’s office.”

CCF filed suit against Newsom a day after he began allowing same-sex couples to get married on Feb. 12. Several suits challenging the constitutionality of the ban followed, including individual suits from same-sex couples throughout California and a suit filed by the City of San Francisco alongside several other individual plaintiffs, represented by a same-sex marriage public interest law firm.

After the California Supreme Court ruled that Newsom had overstepped his powers and declared void some 4,000 same-sex marriage licenses issued in San Francisco, amendment challengers sought to remove CCF from the consolidated cases.

Full party status will allow Liberty Counsel to fully develop litigation defense strategy, including the presentation of evidence, full briefing and argument, stated the group.

Robert Tyler, a California attorney of the Alliance Defense Fund, which funds litigations by Liberty Counsel, said that while the state’s High Court did nullify the same-sex marriage licenses, it did not address the constitutionality of California’s marriage law which passed under Proposition 22.

“The Supreme Court’s decision was excellent, but the justices themselves said that they were not ruling on the validity of California’s marriage laws in that case,” Tyler said. “The members of the Proposition 22 organization are uniquely qualified to defend this law. Included among them are many of the same people who made sure the people of California were able to vote on this issue.”

Staver said CCF’s involvement in defending Prop. 22 is “vitally necessary in light of the California Attorney General’s weak defense of California’s marriage laws.” As the Attorney General, Lockyer is required to defend state law in spite of his personal support for same-sex marriage.

“We should not forget that 61.4% of California voters are in favor of traditional marriage. Today’s ruling allows their voices to be heard in this case,” said Staver.