Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2004/ 28 Shevat, 5764

Greg Crosby

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Same-Family Marriages Draw Scores of Couples | Associated Press Feb. 16, 2008 — Brother and sister, Brad and Cloris Jenkins were beaming as they stood in line outside City Hall on Sunday; clutching their ticket to go inside and get married. Demand for San Francisco's controversial same-family marriage licenses has been so great that overwhelmed officials turned away hundreds of waiting same-family couples Sunday, telling them to come back this morning.

But the Jenkins' were among the luckier ones. They stood in line for hours Saturday — and left with a number that allowed them to walk into City Hall on Sunday morning to exchange their vows. They were joining a vast wedding march that began Thursday, when San Francisco officials began issuing licenses to same-family couples. Hundreds of brother and sister, father and daughter, and mother and son couples have been married since.

The event has sparked protests and legal challenges from conservatives, but celebrations from same-family couple groups such as SILT (Siblings In Love Together), MAST (Mother And Son Teaming), DADD (Daddy And Daughter Diddling), and PRATTO (Parents Relating Amorously To Their Offspring) who have hailed the event as historic. Officials kept City Hall open during the long holiday weekend, and many clerks and sheriff's deputies volunteered their time to accommodate couples flocking to San Francisco from throughout the country.

But about a dozen people across the street held signs to protest the same-family marriages. And two organizations say the licenses are illegal because California defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman who are not directly related to each other. Both sides are expected to battle in court this week.

"If this state and country truly believe in equality, this marriage should be valid," Brad Jenkins said.

As the marriage official pronounced Brad and Cloris spouses, they hugged and kissed. Their friends joined in their embrace at the top of the grand staircase in the center of San Francisco's ornate City Hall.

"It feels different," said Cloris, who described their commitment to each other as "boundless." "If there's such a thing as more boundless, that's just what happened," Cloris said.

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Associated Press Feb. 17, 2008 — As hundreds of family member couples lined up at City Hall for the historic chance to wed with the city's blessing, opponents filed legal papers Monday arguing that only judges could declare California's prohibition on same-family marriages to be unconstitutional.

In a brief submitted for a court hearing today, lawyers for one of two groups seeking to block the unprecedented wedding march said that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was "in blatant violation of state law" when he directed the county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-family couples.

Newsom has argued that the equal protection clause of the California Constitution makes denying marriage licenses to brothers and sisters, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, or any combination thereof illegal. But lawyers for a group formed to defend "traditional marriage" contend the mayor lacks the authority to make that call.

The looming legal showdown didn't deter thousands of people from lining up outside City Hall in the rain. They hoped to join more than 1,700 other same-family couples who have exchanged vows here in recent days. Despite miserable weather, many couples camped out overnight rather than risk going home still single.

In a related event, members of a group called GLITH (Gay Love In The Home) demonstrated for the right of a gay father to legally marry his son and a gay mother to legally marry her daughter.

When asked for comment, San Francisco Mayor Newsom said he wasn't ready yet to legally allow those sorts of unions. "I just sort of think that we, as a society, have to draw the line somewhere, "he said.

(NOTE: With a few minor changes, such as the term "same-sex marriage" switched to "same-family marriage" the dates altered to a future year, and the final quote from the mayor, these stories ran more or less as you see them here as reported by the Associated Press.)

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2004 Greg Crosby