Friday, February 20, 2004

Scenes from Marriages

Like the darling child who is not used to being ignored, the Bay Area stamps its foot, and the nation reluctantly shifts its gaze to the west.

The Scott Peterson trial has moved to Redwood City, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. The national media have misleadingly called it a “bedroom community”: Redwood City is home to Oracle Systems and Electronic Arts, who are leaders in their respective markets of business software and videogames. My son, now a freshman in college, was born in Redwood City’s Kaiser Hospital, a first-rate medical facility. I’ve been taking the 1967 VW Bug, my old college car, to Fred’s Garage off Industrial Boulevard for the past 20 years. The German mechanics at Fred’s take pity on my car: last month a tune-up, oil and lube, and routine maintenance cost me only $177, a fraction of what they charge their BMW, Mercedes, and Audi customers.

In sports the top-ranked college basketball team in the country—at least this week—plays its home games in Palo Alto. The Stanford Cardinal are likely to be the top seed in the West when the brackets are announced for the NCAA tournament in March. We’ll see if they finally live up to expectations after being upset by underdogs five years running.

The good news about Stanford has been overshadowed by the burgeoning controversy over steroid drugs administered to professional athletes. Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) in Burlingame is expert in designing and producing drugs that current tests do not detect. There is at least one very famous sports star whose personal trainer has intimate ties to BALCO. This issue had been simmering since last summer but boiled over when it was mentioned in the President’s State-of-the-Union address.

But the number one story for the past week, of course, has been the issuing of marriage licenses to gay couples by the City of San Francisco. For the record, these are the requirements for a marriage license, as listed on the City’s web-site:

General information about marriage in the State of California
  • You do not need to be a California resident to marry in California. The same requirements apply whether you are a U.S. Citizen or a Tourist.
  • Only an unmarried male and an unmarried female may marry in California. [Update: the following sentence was not here one week ago] However, in the City and County of San Francisco two unmarried individuals may marry.
  • Marriage by proxy is not allowed in California.

    Requirements for a Public Marriage License
  • Age Requirement Minimum age 18. Person under 18 with written consent of at least one parent (or legal guardian) and permission from a Juvenile Court Judge may marry.
  • Blood Test: Not required
  • Attendance: Both partners must be present when filing application and issuing license.
  • Legal Photo I.D. A legal picture I.D. card is required from each partner. (Examples: passport, driver's license, naturalization form, resident alien cards, military I.D. which must contain full legal name. If the legal picture I.D. card does not contain your full legal name you must also present a certified copy of birth certificate or a social security card, showing your full legal name.
  • Previously Married? If you have been previously married, you will need to know the exact date of when your marriage was finalized. If your marriage was finalized within 90 days, verification of papers (certified copy of divorce, annulment, or death record) is required. Note: A “Filed” or “Endorsed” copy (usually issued by your attorney) will not be acceptable. [Blogger’s comment: I re-read this several times and have no idea what it means. Also the word “finalized” causes me to shudder when it's used in a formal legal setting.]
  • Validity License is valid for 90 days from date of issuance and is valid anywhere in the State of California. A marriage license is only a permit to get married and you are not married until a ceremony is performed.
  • License Fee $82.00 Cash, local pre-printed check or money order only (price subject to change).

  • Today I strolled down to City Hall to see what the fuss was all about:

    The ubiquitous TV trucks

    My concerns about the institution of marriage and the crumbling of society as we know it melted in the face of the palpable joy demonstrated by nearly everyone there. As the founding document states:
    ...we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
    There was a lot of happiness in the room. I would not want to be the one who takes that happiness away.

    The line starts at the snack bar

    Snakes its way past the gift store

    Into the hallway

    Clerk's office in the distance

    After getting their license, many get married right away in this magnificent setting

    But I am just a humble citizen with an opinion. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom showed that he is unfit for higher office by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in direct contravention of state law. The executive has a special responsibility to uphold the law, even those he disagrees with. Given the strong arguments on either side of issues such as abortion, capital punishment, recreational drug use, and immigration, to name but a few in addition to gay marriage, it is not only possible but likely that the chief executive of a city, state, or even the nation would not agree with some of the laws it is his duty to uphold. If he didn’t think that he could enforce these laws, then he shouldn’t have taken the oath of office. © 2004 Stephen Yuen

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