Gideon Codding and Rachel Bird were recently married in Placer County, near Sacramento. Surprised by newly-revised state forms that now designate marriage applicants as "Party A" and "Party B," Gideon and Rachel jotted an explanatory "Groom" and "Bride" next to the party names. They were stunned when, weeks later, the form was returned to Pastor Doug Bird, who officiated at the ceremony. The County's letter states that the license "does not comply with California State registration laws" - even though the official forms in use just prior to the gay marriage ruling called the marrying couple "Bride" and "Groom." Because the County refused to process their form, the Coddings are not legally married and have been prevented from accessing the many benefits available to married couples.
Like the State Supreme Court, Gideon and Rachel believe words matter - which is why they are taking their plight to court. Attorneys for Pacific Justice Institute are filing suit this week in Placer County, asking the
court to order the Clerk-Recorder-Registrar to process the marriage license. "Being labeled by the state as 'Party A' and 'Party B' is demeaning," noted PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider. "It's shocking that we have to litigate over whether newlyweds can call themselves a bride and groom." PJI affiliate attorneys Steven N. H. Wood and Christopher Schweickert, of the Walnut Creek firm Bergquist, Wood & Anderson, LLP, are working closely with PJI staff attorneys on the case.
PJI President Brad Dacus commented, "Already, we are seeing the negative effects of gay marriage in California, as the state is changing centuries-old traditions to accommodate homosexuals. Unless the Protect Marriage Initiative, Proposition 8, is approved in November, we expect a tidal wave of new restraints and limitations to be imposed on people of faith."