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Same-Sex Couples Refused Marriage Licenses

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The East Los Angeles County Clerk’s office refused marriage licenses to several same-sex couples who requested them today.  The attempt was part of the 10th Annual Marriage Counter Actions, a nationwide effort tied to Valentine’s Day to win support for the repeal of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I was really surprised by the depth of the hurt when she said no,” said Lori Campbell, a Culver City resident who was part of one of the couples.  The couples were told that California law limits marriage to be between one man and one woman.

“We engage in this annual event to put a local face on marriage discrimination around the country and render visible the discrimination currently enforced at government marriage counters in most states in America,” said Molly McKay, media director of Marriage Equality USA, the Oakland-based organization which organized the event.

LaVerne Tolbert of the Protect Marriage Coalition, which opposes same-sex marriage, called the event “defiance of law, defiance of the people’s will.”

“The people of California have voted again and again for traditional marriage,” Tolbert said, referring to the 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, and the 2000 passage of Proposition 22, which specified that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled last year that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. However, a stay was put on the ruling until an appellate panel makes its decision.  The Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 1996, prevents the federal government from recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages.

Campbell and her partner, Maja Roble of Playa Vista, and the other couples who were denied marriage licenses participated in a commitment ceremony.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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