updated 2/25/2004 3:28:12 PM ET 2004-02-25T20:28:12

Opponents of gay marriage on Wednesday asked the California Supreme Court to stop San Francisco from issuing any more same-sex marriage licenses and to nullify the thousands of weddings already performed.

The lawsuit was filed by the Alliance Defense Fund less than a week after two state judges declined to stop San Francisco city officials from issuing the marriage licenses, more than 3,200 of which have been granted since Feb. 12.

Robert Tyler, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, said that if local officials can declare what is state law and what is not, “we would have complete chaos in the system.”

State law bars gay marriage. But Mayor Gavin Newsom has argued that the California Constitution’s equal protection clause trumps state law and requires that all persons be treated equally.

State to make plea Friday
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer plans to ask the state Supreme Court on Friday to decide whether San Francisco authorities are violating the law.

But conservative groups have said they do not trust Lockyer, a leading Democrat and potential rival to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2006 election, to defend their position vigorously.

Jon Davidson, an attorney for the gay-rights group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, said the latest appeal “is about politics, not the law.”

On Tuesday, President Bush cited San Francisco’s gay-marriage spree as well as a recent ruling by Massachusetts’ highest court when he backed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Lawsuit seeks same-sex marriage in Florida
In Florida, meanwhile, dozens of gay men and women sued a court clerk in a challenge to the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriages.

The lawsuit — apparently the first legal challenge to the law — names only Broward County Clerk Howard Forman, who issues wedding licenses for the county.

“An idea whose time has come can never be stopped,” said Ellis Rubin, attorney for the 175 plaintiffs. “This idea’s time is now.”

Jacob DiPietre, a spokesman for Gov. Jeb Bush, said the president’s brother stands behind the state law. Florida is among 38 states that prohibit same-sex unions.

“We’ve had a law on the books in Florida since 1977 banning gay marriage and the governor took an oath of office to uphold the laws of the state,” he said.

Some Florida municipalities, including Broward County, recognize certain aspects of civil unions.

Gays and lesbians employed by Broward County are eligible to have their same-sex partners covered by work-provided health insurance and receive other benefits typically extended to spouses.

“We’re people, human beings, American citizens,” said James Stewart, a retired teacher from Dania Beach. “It’s an old cliched line, but you know what? If we’re going to pay our taxes, we deserve every right that should be granted to every American citizen.”

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