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Gay Marriage Advocates Suffer Setbacks in MA, San Francisco

By Bob Keefe

Cox News Service -- Gay marriage advocates suffered a double-barreled setback Thursday, as states on either side of the country moved to prohibit same-sex weddings.

The California Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the city of San Francisco to immediately stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, a month almost to the day that the city set off a national debate by allowing such unions. The court said the city was violating state laws that declare a marriage is between a man and woman.

In Massachusetts, meanwhile, the legislature gave preliminary approval to a state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriages but allow civil unions.

Opponents of gay marriage hailed the action by the two states as a major victory, and said it was more proof that the country as a whole is against the idea of same-sex weddings.

“This is a momentum swing,” said Glen Lavy, senior attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative group that sued to stop the gay marriages in San Francisco. “But frankly, you’ve got people up in arms all around the country about this lawlessness.”

The action in the two states stopped far short of settling the simmering disagreement over gay marriage, however.

While San Francisco must stop issuing wedding licenses to gay couples immediately, the state Supreme Court did not rule on whether or not gay marriages are legal.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has argued that prohibiting gay couples to wed violates the state constitution’s rules prohibiting discrimination. In its ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court ordered Newsom to show cause why a ban on gay marriages would violate the constitution by late May or early June. The court is expected to make an ultimate ruling sometime after that.

In Massachusetts, a constitutional amendment still faces final approval and expected legal challenges from gay rights supporters.