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CURRENT ISSUE:  March 10, 2008
VOL. 46, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Vatican: baptisms using wrong words must be redone
Drop in U.S. Catholics offset by new immigrants, study says
Court hears arguments
on same-sex marriage

Demonstrators for and against Proposition 22, which excludes same-sex couples from state-sanctioned marriage, gathered outside the state Supreme Court building in San Francisco March 4 as the court held a three-and-a-half hour session to hear arguments from attorneys on both sides of the issue.

The hearing dealt with challenges to the law filed by nearly two dozen same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco, which entered the case after the court invalidated an order by Mayor Gavin Newsom that allowed nearly 4,000 same-sex couples to marry in 2004.

The plaintiffs argue that the California Constitution protects the rights of same-sex couples to marry, according to a March 4 report in The San Francisco Chronicle. Those arguing to keep the law included the state of California, which says the definition of marriage is so deeply engrained in law that only the Legislature or voters have the power to change it, and religious groups stating that making same-sex marriage a right would jeopardize families and children.

The opponents of same-sex marriage include two Catholic organizations, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, and the Knights of Columbus. The two groups are not parties in the marriage cases but have written arguments for the court to weigh before rendering its decision.

“The Catholic Church and Catholic faith community oppose any policy or law that would undermine the fundamental importance of marriage as the bedrock upon which a just moral culture is built,” the California Catholic Conference stated in its court brief, which was written in concert with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the National Association of Evangelicals and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

In a statement on the court hearing, Bill May, chairman of Catholics for the Common Good, said marriage between a man and a woman is best for parenting and should not be watered down to serve adult lifestyle choices.

“The interest of children is best served by laws encouraging and supporting marriage for their mothers and fathers rather than by supporting those who would intentionally deprive them of a mother or a father,” he said.

The justices spent a little over 90 minutes during the hearing in San Francisco questioning three attorneys for the plaintiffs, then questioning the opponents of changing the state law. The lawyers for the city of San Francisco and same-sex couples who want Proposition 22 overturned told reporters after the hearting that they felt the justices were receptive to their case and were cautiously optimistic for a favorable ruling.

The court has 90 days to issue an opinion on the constitutionality of Proposition 22, the marriage exclusion passed by California voters in 2000.

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