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California Gay Marriages to Proceed as Court Rebuffs Conservative Challenge

By L.K. Regan

Conservative religious and legal groups were rebuffed Wednesday in their efforts to persuade the California Supreme Court to repeal its verdict legalizing gay marriages, the Associated Press reports. The court, which ruled May 15th to overturn legal bans on same-sex marriages in the nation's most populous state, refused to honor requests to stay its decision in anticipation of a November ballot initiative to ban such marriages. This refusal pushes same-sex marriages over their last hurdle in California, ensuring that weddings can begin on June 17th, the first day after the ruling takes effect.

The effect of California's marriages in other states is also unknown; on May 14th, New York governor David Patterson ordered the state's officials to recognize same-sex marriages contracted elsewhere—even though New York does not itself have legal gay marriages. Conservative groups were quick to challenge Patterson's order in court, naming several Republican senators as parties to the suit.

The California Supreme Court's ruling guarantees that same-sex weddings will take place in California—at least for a while. But California's secretary of state also announced that a measure written to ban gay marriages had garnered enough signatures to qualify for the state's November ballot. The new measure, written as an amendment to the California state constitution, would definitively settle the matter by "provid[ing] that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," the AP reports.

Will such love-hating initiatives be successful? It's too soon to tell. But the answer may, as so often, lie in bureaucracy. It's all about the forms. California is currently in a scramble to figure out which will change first—the people saying their "I do's," or the forms saying "bride and groom." Once those forms are reprinted—will anyone really be willing to re-write them yet again?