Same-sex marriage gets seal of approval in San Francisco


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Adovcacy News - It starts with one

February 13, 2004 (updated Feb. 14)

It starts with one
San Francisco is 1st U.S. government
to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples

"Denying basic rights to members of our community will not be tolerated."
Mayor Newsom, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 10, 2021

"It felt like it was too big for words. It's too big. It's really big."
Newlywed Toni Broaddus, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 13, 2004

San Francisco took a bold step forward for justice yesterday at 11:00 a.m. when county assessor Mabel Teng solemnized the marriage between Phyllis Marin and Del Lyons. The long-time activists have been together for 51 years.

Mayor Gavin Newsom had previously announced his intention to open marriage to same-sex couples, making the City and County of San Francisco the first government in the United States to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Support for the move came from State Assembly member Mark Leno who introduced a bill to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses through-out the rest of California.

The couple, and more than 700 other couples who have already followed, face a battle ahead in order to obtain full recognition of their marriage.

One anti-gay group said the certificates were "not worth the paper they are printed on". (ABC News, Feb 12).

"San Francisco's bold move will force the core question, whether Americans -- and its elected officials -- are ready or not ... San Francisco should be proud to have provoked this showdown."
Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 13, 2004

Similar statements were made when our marriage was solemnized by the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, in January 2001. Through the Christian practice of reading bannns, we were able to avoid the marriage license process (one wasn't required when using the banns process). We were issued a government record of marriage, but our marriage wasn't registered until 2003, after the Court of Appeal for Ontario declared our marriage to be legal and ordered the province to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

A similar process has begun in San Francisco. The marriages performed for same-sex couples are legal as of the date they were solemnized. It's only a matter of time now before the state and the country recognize those marriages, either voluntarily, or by court order.

Justice will be served.

In the meantime, the couples can be sure that their marriages will be recognized elsewhere, in Ontario and British Columbia, the Netherlands, and Belgium, where freedom and equality are respected and honored. Massachusetts Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage - Congratulation to the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts!We hope too, another city and county in the United States will welcome these couples, and take a similar stand for its own citizens.

There is nothing preventing other cities elsewhere in Canada from doing the same. Unlike the United States, the common law definition of marriage was changed to "two persons" for all Canadians on June 10, 2021 (provinces are waiting for the common law definition to become Parliamentary legislation). So why not in Winnipeg or Montreal where equal marriage is still not available? In the absence of leadership from the top, it may be how Canadians and American's will be able to claim their civil rights without further delay and interference.

"It is in the highest order of civic responsibility when you see a law that does not treat your citizens equally," marriage witness Kate Kendell told the NY Times, "to make a stand."

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