LOS ANGELES - This morning, the ACLU of Southern California, together with the ACLU of Northern California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit arguing that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates the California Constitution's guarantees of equality, liberty, and privacy.
The suit was filed on behalf of six same-sex couples, five of whom had upcoming appointments to obtain marriage licenses at San Francisco's City Hall. The couples had their appointments cancelled as a result of the California Supreme Court's order yesterday directing San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Two organizations, Our Family Coalition and Equality California, are also parties in the case.
"We have an opportunity here to end marriage discrimination in California," said Martha Matthews, Bohnett Attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. "Loving, committed same-sex couples should not be denied the rights extended to all other Californians under the state's Constitution."
The couples in the suit:
' Lancy Woo and Cristy Chung have been in a committed relationship for 16 years. They have a five-year old daughter, Olivia. Lancy and Cristy had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall on March 30th.
' Joshua Rymer and Timothy Frazer have been in a committed relationship for more than 10 years. Joshua and Tim met in 1994 and exchanged wedding rings in a private ceremony in 1995. They had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall at 2:00 P.M. on March 17th and were planning to have a small ceremony at City Hall, to be followed by a reception and renewal of vows at their home in Sonoma.
' Jewell Gomez and Diane Sabin have been together for 11 years. Jewell is a writer and the Program Director at the San Francisco Arts Commission. Diane is a chiropractor. Diane and Jewell had obtained an application for a marriage license and intended to marry.
' Myra Beals and Ida Matson are 61 and 68 years old, respectively, and have been in a committed relationship for 27 years. They had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall on Friday, March 12, 2004 - one day after the California Supreme Court ordered San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Friends and family had made plans to join them in San Francisco on March 12 to celebrate their marriage with them.
' Arthur Frederick Adams and Devin Wayne Baker have been together in a committed relationship for three and a half years. Arthur and Devin had an appointment to get married at San Francisco Hall at 3:00 P.M. on March 11th. They bought wedding rings and arrived at San Francisco City Hall about 2:45 P.M. on March 11, along with several family members and friends who were there to witness and celebrate their wedding. Arthur and Devin were in the process of completing an application for a marriage license when they were informed that no further marriage licenses would be issued to same-sex couples.
' Jeanne Rizzo and Pali Cooper have been together in a committed relationship for 15 years. Jeanne and Pali had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall at 3:00 P.M. on March 11th. They arrived at San Francisco City Hall on that date, accompanied by about fifty family members and friends, including many who had traveled from out of state to attend their wedding celebration. Jeanne and Pali were on the steps of City Hall with their family members when they were told that no more marriage licenses would be granted.
The two organizational plaintiffs in the suit:
' Our Family Coalition is a San Francisco Bay Area organization dedicated to promoting the civil rights and well being of families of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members.
' Equality California is the leading state-wide advocacy group protecting the needs and interests of same-sex couples and their children in California.