Arnie acts to ban California gay marriages as 'threat to civil order'

Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's Governor, has stepped into the national furore over gay marriage, ordering the state's top legal official to take action to stop the issuance of same-sex marriage licences in San Francisco, on the grounds it represented "an imminent threat to civil order".

The Terminator star, who took office last November, made his request to California's attorney general, Bill Lockyer, after a judge in San Francisco again refused to accede to two lawsuits brought by conservative and religious groups on the grounds that same-sex marriage violated state law. The court ruling did not address the substance of the lawsuits, but merely ordered the two suits to be merged "to avoid duplication". Even so, it represented another tactical victory for the gay marriage cause, effectively delaying any action by San Francisco's courts until next month at the earliest, by which time thousands more licences will have been issued - unless Mr Schwarzenegger secures the state-wide ban he is seeking.

In the nine working days since the directive by Mayor Gavin Newsom allowing same-sex marriage licences, more than 3,000 have been issued in San Francisco. From all over the US, gay couples have flocked to the city famous for its embrace of progressive social causes, queuing for hours, even days, for an appointment to receive a licence.

But the issue is moving beyond the West Coast, attracting supporters in unexpected places, and intruding into national politics as a presidential election looms. On Friday, a county near Albuquerque, New Mexico, gave marriage licences to 35 same-sex couples. In that case, however, the New Mexico attorney general swiftly intervened, saying the practice violated state law and ordering it to stop.

But there were signs San Francisco's lead could be followed by other major cities. In perhaps the most startling development, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago - not previously regarded as a proponent of cutting-edge social change - has declared that he would have "no problem" if Chicago's Cook County issued same-sex licences in America's third largest metropolis.

The issue moved centre stage earlier this year when the Massachusetts supreme court ruled that nothing short of legal marriage would fulfil the right of homosexuals to "equal protection" under the state's constitution, thus overturning a state law banning same-sex marriage. But the running is being made in San Francisco. The latest ruling fits the wider strategy of the gay rights movement, as it tries to frame the controversy in legal terms, portraying same-sex marriage as a constitutional and civil rights question rather than as a political issue, which a majority of Americans do not support. Indeed, a California poll last week found that while 58 per cent of people in liberal San Francisco favoured gay marriage, only 44 per cent did so statewide.

Nationally, opposition is far greater. For that reason, Democratic candidates are treating the issue with extreme care. Well aware that the latest push originated in his home state, Senator John Kerry is reiterating that while he favours civil unions for same-sex couples, he is against marriage.

Even so, Republicans are bound to use the dispute to depict Mr Kerry as a "Massachusetts liberal", out of touch with the national mood. President Bush has described the notion of gay marriage as "very troubling", and may soon urge an amendment of the US constitution to outlaw it.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz