Seattle Mayor Sued After Ordering Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriage

Mar 11, 2004

Seattle, WA – Today, a lawsuit was filed by John Aydelott and Randall Lefkovar against Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels seeking to block the mayor’s Executive Order (“Order”), which declares recognition of same-sex “marriage” for city employees. The Plaintiffs are represented by, Brian Fahling, Senior Trial Attorney with the AFA Center for Law & Policy, and Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel.

On March 8, 2004, Mayor Nickels signed an Order purporting to acknowledge the validity of same-sex “marriages” for city employees. Joined by members of the City Council, the City Attorney and a member of Seattle’s Sexual Minorities Commission, Nickels stated that he will also propose an ordinance to the City Council offering same-sex marriage for all Seattle residents. The Order also stated that the Office of Civil Rights was authorized to investigate complaints from city employees regarding any violations of the Order and that the City’s Personnel Department was ordered to devise guidelines in accordance with the Order.

In 1998, the state of Washington passed a Defense of Marriage Act, which expressly states that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that Washington will not recognize any same-sex marriage from any out-of-state or foreign jurisdiction. In Washington, like every other state, marriage is a statewide concern, and thus falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the State. Marriage cannot be altered, amended or modified by a city, county, or any other political subdivision. Since the State has sole jurisdiction over marriage, the actions by Mayor Nickels are illegal. The suit seeks a mandamus to prohibit the mayor from violating clearly established state law. Prior to filing suit, a letter was sent to Washington’s Attorney General seeking a determination as to whether the AG would intervene, and the response was that there would be no intervention. Consequently, state law provides that in the absence of an attorney general intervention, private citizens may bring an enforcement action.

Attorney Fahling stated, “Mayor Nickels will learn just like the mayor of New Paltz, New York – he cannot deliberately disobey the law. The rule of law will prevail ”

Attorney Staver of Liberty Counsel commented, “Last week Judge Vincent Bradley issued a clear message against New Paltz, New York, Mayor Jason West. That message not only applies to Mayor West, but also to Mayor Nickels. Any public official who takes an oath of office must uphold state law, and in the state of Washington, the law could not be any more clear – marriage is between one man and one woman. I am astounded at the deliberate disobedience of public officials who are willing to violate their oath, violate the law, and trample on the will of the people, all so that they can push their radical same-sex agenda. Like in New Paltz, New York, law and order will return to Seattle.”