Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Seattle's gay marriage policy gets challenged in court

Seattle's gay marriage policy gets challenged in court


Associated Press

A California organization has asked a court to throw out Seattle's policy of recognizing gay marriages of its workers.

The Pacific Justice Institute says Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels went beyond his authority in 2004 when he ordered city departments to provide equal benefits to employees married by governments that license same-sex marriages.

At issue is whether Nickels used language in his order and accompanying press release to effectively sanction gay marriage. The institute says it's an issue that is at odds with the state's ban on gay marriages.

A lawyer for institute ... Matthew McReynolds ... appeared before a three-judge state Court of Appeals panel today. McReynolds said it was the institute's position that this goes way beyond employee benefits and Nickels was just using this as an opportunity to undercut the state Defense and Marriage Act.

Representing the city, lawyer Phil Brenneman countered that Nickels' policy was limited to employee benefits.

One of the three judges on the appellate bench took issue with the discrepancy between the limited scope of Nickels' executive order and his broader public endorsement of gay marriage. Judge Stephen Dwyer says Nickels was misleading the public in terms of what he was trying to accomplish.

The Pacific Justice Institute is described as a conservative, non-profit legal defense group specializing in religious freedom and parental rights.

(Seattle Post-Intelligencer; not for online use in the Seattle area)

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