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S.F. celebrates same-sex newlyweds
Updated: 2004-02-23 08:58

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday to honor San Francisco's newly married same-sex couples as politicians continued to debate whether the mayor overstepped his authority in allowing the unions.

Nearly 1,800 people registered to attend the celebration at the Hyatt Regency Hotel's Grand Ballroom, which was decorated with purple and white balloons. Well-dressed couples wearing heart-shaped red, white and blue stickers that said "Freedom to Marry" arrived before the event.

The marriage of Del Martin, 83, and Phyllis Lyon, 79 — longtime leaders in the city's lesbian community who have been together 51 years — was the focal point of the celebration. They were the first of more than 3,000 gay couples married in San Francisco beginning Feb. 12.

City Hall was closed Sunday, but city officials were expected to resume issuing same-sex marriage licenses Monday, despite protests from conservative groups and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Two judges last week denied requests by conservative groups to immediately halt same-sex marriages in the city and find the licenses already issued to be invalid.

Schwarzenegger has directed state Attorney General Bill Lockyer to take action and stop the marriages, which were authorized by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

"In San Francisco, it is license for marriage of same sex. Maybe the next thing is another city that hands out licenses for assault weapons and someone else hands out licenses for selling drugs, I mean you can't do that," Schwarzenegger said Sunday on NBC.

"We have to stay within the law," he said. "There's a state law that says specific things, and if you want to challenge those laws then you can go to the court."

San Francisco has sued the state, saying the gay marriage ban violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.

Newsom said on CNN's "Late Edition" that there was no basis for comparing laws on gay marriage to gun control.

"It's not about AK-47s," he said. "It's not about these other hypotheticals. It's about human beings. It's about human dignity. ... It's about, I think, holding truth, faith and allegiance to the Constitution."

Also Sunday, the same-sex wedding spree in San Francisco gave greater meaning to an annual gay and lesbian wedding expo in Los Angeles.

Carly Foster, 29, of Agoura Hills, married Caprice Fowler in San Francisco on Feb. 15, but she was among about 200 people at the expo because the couple plan to renew their vows.

"I hope the state will back our marriage," Foster said. "If they don't, it will send a message that we don't mean anything."

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