County Clerk Unclear on Validity of Same-Sex Marriages

In spite of the California Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the validity of same-sex marriages performed before Proposition 8 was adopted, a couple applying for benefits was told by a clerk that their marriage was not recognized by the county, and that one of the partners would have to wait outside during an appointment for county services.

The couple was also told by the clerk’s supervisor that their marriage was not recognized by the county.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties finds this incident profoundly disturbing, and today wrote a letter to the County Counsel expressing its concerns.

It is our understanding, however, that the matter has been rectified, and that a county official apologized to the couple, and that the county will conduct training on the duty to respect the same-sex marriages that were upheld by the California Supreme Court to ensure that no such events arise again.

The County Counsel, in an immediate response, said that “the County is going to provide training because it is interested in making sure all County employees understand the law and County policies, apply the laws and policies in a way that ensures compliance, and perform their duties in a respectful manner to recipients of County services.”

The ACLU will continue to monitor the situation, though we appreciate the prompt attention the County has taken to correct the problem.

On May 26, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the marriages of the 18,000 couples who married before November 5 were valid and protected.

ACLU Letter to County Counsel