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San Mateo Daily Journal


September, 16 2008


By Michelle Durand



County officials to back gay marriage, oppose Prop. 8



County officials are poised to formally oppose a state measure to outlaw recently permitted gay marriage by defining the union as one between only a man and a woman.

The Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a resolution opposing Proposition 8, as the ban on gay marriage is known on the ballot, at its Tuesday meeting. Barring any unexpected positions, the decision will bolster positions taken by the board in previous years. While none of the resolutions carry any legal weight, the stances send a clear message to the county of where its elected leaders stand in the contentious election battle.

Interestingly, two voting supervisors — one heterosexual and one gay — were recently wed themselves.

The county has “long supported the rights of same-sex couples by providing domestic partner benefits to its employees,” County Manager John Maltbie stated in a staff report on behalf of the Legislative Committee.

While the recommendation doesn’t further opine on the matter, the resolution does detail that supporters find domestic partnerships and civil unions poor substitutes for the “dignity and respect that our society places on the institution of marriage.”

Finances also play a role in the recommendation, according to Maltbie’s report. If Proposition 8 passes, the state and local governments could lose revenue — primarily sales tax — upwards of the several tens of millions of dollars because there won’t be the expected increase in weddings over the next few years, according to an evaluation by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

In May 2007, county supervisors unanimously voted to support the city of San Francisco in its battle against the state to deem unconstitutional the law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The Board of Supervisors previously backed a same-sex marriage bill by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and County Clerk Warren Slocum solicited support from every county statewide.

The unanimous positions and actions were a change from previous years, such as April 2004 when the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to endorse same-sex marriage. Supervisor Mark Church voted no.

The Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16 in Board Chambers, 400 County Government Center, Redwood City.


Michelle Durand can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.