This morning, the California Supreme Court denied a request to rehear its May 15 ruling that legalized same sex marriage. Gay and lesbian couples can now wed, starting on June 17–the date set by the state. Now it's only a question if county clerks throughout California can quickly change the fine print on marriage licenses from a “husband” and “wife” to “spouse” and “spouse.”
The most recent ruling by the supreme court was handed down by the same four judges who found Proposition 22–the successful 2000 initiative that dedicated marriage only between a man and a woman–unconstitutional. Once again, Chief Justice Ronald George led the majority opinion.
Any gay or lesbian couple from anywhere in the United States will be allowed to marry in California, which state officials and gay activists believe will attract thousands of out-of-state gays. New York State officials have already announced they will recognize gay marriage if their residents say their nuptials in California and return back to the Empire State. Many other states are concerned that gays will wed in California, return home, and then file lawsuits. For gay rights lawyers, the next several months should be very interesting.
Calfornia voters, though, will have the last say on same sex unions this November, when an anti-gay marriage ballot measure will be put in front of them. Already, both sides of the issue are raising millions of dollars in donations to win the battle, which will be watched by the national and world media. For the gay rights movement and the religious right, it may be the single most important turning point in both their histories.
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