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State high court may get same-sex marriage

Terry Owens, left, embraces her new spouse Laura Polak at City Hall in San Francisco, Monday.
Terry Owens, left, embraces her new spouse Laura Polak at City Hall in San Francisco, Monday.

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(CNN) -- California's attorney general announced Monday he would ask the state Supreme Court to decide if San Francisco's approval of same-sex marriage licenses is legal.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer said he would file the action Friday, a statement from his office in Sacramento said.

"The attorney general seeks the Supreme Court's intervention because he believes the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses violates California law," the statement said.

The action is the latest legal maneuver to try to stop the gay and lesbian marriages, thousands of which have taken place since San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered his county clerk to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses February 12.

Newsom said Sunday he was willing to sacrifice his political career over his strongly held belief that denying gay men and lesbians the right to marry "is wrong and inconsistent with the values this country holds dear."

"I think we're on firm legal footing and legal grounds, and certainly I believe very strongly and passionately we're on the right moral ground," Newsom told CNN.

The attorney general's statement said the state Supreme Court "may take the case or direct the issue to an appellate or superior court," and said there is no time frame for the court to decide if it will accept the case.

"The people of California who have enacted laws that recognize marriage only between a man and a woman, and the same-sex couples who were provided marriage licenses in San Francisco deserve a speedy resolution to the question of the legality of these licenses and the authority of San Francisco officials to provide them," Lockyer said in the statement.

Nearly 3,200 same-sex couples have gotten licenses in a nine-day frenzy that included thousands of family, friends and soon-to-be betrothed couples ringing City Hall, some of them for days.

Two lawsuits against the city seeking to halt the marriages and the city's suit against the state have been combined, but no trial date has yet been set.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined the opposition Sunday, urging Newsom to obey the law.

"I've talked to the mayor," the governor told NBC's "Meet the Press." "He's a reasonable guy, he's a terrific mayor, but we just disagree on that particular thing."

Schwarzenegger, while saying he was "very much against" same-sex marriage, said he believes "very strongly in domestic partnership rights," which would confer the same benefits on same-sex couples that marriage confers on male-female marriage.

Newsom, however, said that such provisions amount to a "separate-but-unequal status."

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