Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gay Marriage Protest Bridges Country

Gay Marriage Protest Bridges Country
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: May 20, 2007 - 11:00 am ET

(New York City) Several thousand people rallied for same-sex marriage rights on opposite sides of the country over the weekend, crossing the country's two most famous bridges.

In New York hundreds of people marched across the Brooklyn Bridge while in San Francisco about an equal number made their way across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Equal marriage legislation has been introduced in the legislatures of both states. In addition a lawsuit seeking marriage rights is before the California Supreme Court.

"If we could combine the California Legislature with New York's Governor Elliot Switzer, who has introduced legislation in support of marriage equality, we would have marriage equality now, and fulfill this quest for basic fairness for all families," said Pamela Brown, a spokesperson for Marriage Equality USA.

The organization, along with Marriage Equality New York, sponsored the twin marches.

In New York, same-sex couples, politicians and gay marriage supporters marched from Foley Square, near City Hall across the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn.

It ended with a picnic and festival in Cadman Plaza.

"We aren't here in favor of mandatory gay marriage. We are neither advocating that people become gay or become married. We are saying that there's a certain dignity this country aspires to,” said state Rep. Anthony Weiner.

In April New York State Gov. Elliott Spitzer became the first governor in the country to introduce same-sex marriage legislation. (story)

Last July the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, ruled that same-sex couples do not have a constitutional right to marry. (story) It said that the issue, however, could be taken up by the Legislature.

But Spitzer's bill already has run into a roadblock.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R) has said he will not let the legislation come to a vote.

In San Francisco marchers gathered at Crissy Field, marched across the Golden Gate Bridge and then return to Crissy Field for wedding cake and entertainment. The march was led by 4-year old Abigail Hasting-Tharp who has two mothers hoping to marry.

Legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry in California is being fought on two fronts - in the legislature and in court.

The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act was introduced in the Assembly at the start of the current session by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

The bill is identical to a one passed last year in both the Assembly and Senate but vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor has said if the measure passes again he will again veto it.

Meanwhile, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments later this year in three cases wrapped together on the issue of the constitutionality of banning same-sex marriage.

Last month attorneys for same-sex couples filed briefs in the case, urging the court to strike down as unconstitutional the law that bars same-sex couples from marriage.

The brief was filed jointly by Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of 15 same-sex couples and California LGBT rights group Equality California.

The attorneys argue that California state law barring same-sex couples from marriage discriminates based on sexual orientation and sex and violates the fundamental right to marry.

The brief cites the California Constitution's guarantees of privacy, intimate association, and due process.

©365Gay.com 2007

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