Healdsburg council backs same-sex marriage in Supreme Court case

In a break from its past practice of avoiding national issues, the Healdsburg City Council is siding with advocates for same-sex marriage in a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case.

After a spirited discussion, the council this week agreed to join a lawsuit challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which recognizes only marriage between a man and woman.

Councilman Gary Plass was hesitant for the council to take a stand, describing it as "an issue we have no control on, or ability to do anything but make a symbolic gesture."

He said previous councils have been "careful not to get bogged down in issues beyond our scope," and stray from the jobs they were elected to do.

"This isn't a federal issue, a state issue or even a political issue. It's a human rights issue," countered Councilman Shaun McCaffery.

He said typically "the city doesn't chime in on things so great and potentially out of their sphere. But this is in our sphere and I don't think we'll get bogged down."

Siding with McCaffery were Mayor Susan Jones and Councilman Tom Chambers. Councilman Jim Wood was absent.

Jones, who is married to her female partner, said "we need to send a message -- people are watching this. Cities across the nation are paying attention and it is important."

Plass said he did not disagree with those challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, just that it wasn't something the City Council should wade into.

As an "amicus," or friend of the court, Healdsburg at at no financial cost is joining hundreds of companies, individuals and some cities, including four in California -- Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica and West Hollywood -- seeking to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

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