February 18, 2004
What Really Happened?
Yesterday, as San Francisco gay couples received marriage licenses from the city, Judge James Warren of the county Superior Court said something. That’s about all the newspaper headlines about the story can agree on.
What actually happened, as far as I can tell: Judge Warren was responding to a request from an anti-gay-marriage group asking him to make San Francisco “cease and desist issuing marriage licenses to and/or solemnizing marriages of same-sex couples; to show cause before this court.” He interpreted the semicolon in that sentence as an “or.” So he told the city either to cease and desist, or to defend its actions on March 29. He also said that the anti-marriage group will probably win its stay when that hearing is held. In other words, the city’s actions might eventually be determined to be illegal.
Depending on which headline you believe, the judge said the marriages were illegal, he said they were ok, he urged a halt on the marriages, he won’t halt the marriages, etc.
I think The Washington Post hits closest to the truth with their headline, “Judges Postpone Action on Same-Sex Marriage.” And I think SFGate.com carried the best story about the matter; theirs actually quoted the judge.