Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, July 15, 2013


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Prop. 8 Backers Launch Bid to Stop Same-Sex Weddings


From Staff and Wire Service Reports


The California Supreme Court Friday ordered state officials to respond to a petition by proponents of Proposition 8, seeking an immediate halt to the marriages of same-sex couples in the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown and other officials were given until 8 p.m. Friday to file an informal response to a request that same-sex marriages be halted pending a ruling on a petition filed earlier in the day by ProtectMarriage, the group that sponsored the initiative that passed in 2008.

The court said ProtectMarriage could reply to the response today. The state was given until next Monday to file preliminary opposition to the petition, and the petitioners will have until Aug. 1 to reply, under a brief order signed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and posted on the state courts’ website.

In its petition, ProtectMarriage argued that state officials who began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples had incorrectly interpreted a June 24 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The high court ruled that ProtectMarriage lacked standing to challenge a previous ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down Proposition 8. On Friday, ProtectMarriage argued in its petition that Proposition 8 remains California law because the U.S. Supreme Court, by relying on standing, didn’t rule directly on the constitutionality of same-sex marriages in Perry v. Hollingsworth.

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Perry has been vacated,” the petition stated, “hence there is no appellate decision holding that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

Therefore, the petitioners argued, the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages is still in force.

They also argued that the original lawsuit filed in San Francisco named only the county clerks of Los Angeles and Alameda counties as defendants. They said the ruling doesn’t reach the 56 other county clerks, who they argued must continue to abide by the marriage ban passed by Proposition 8.

The petitioners claim that county clerks are independent state officials and the state registrar — under orders from Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris — had no authority to direct them on June 26 to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The Legislature has not imbued the state registrar with supervisory authority or control over county clerks issuing marriage licenses,” the petition said.

Ted Olson, one of several high-profile attorneys who represented same-sex couples in the courts, called the petition “utterly baseless.” Olson said any county clerk refusing to follow the state’s orders to issue same-sex marriage licenses faced contempt of court charges and federal civil rights lawsuits.

“Proponents’ latest effort to stop loving couples from marrying in California is a desperate and frivolous act,” Olson said.

UC Davis law professor Vikram Amar predicted the state Supreme Court would reject the petition and keep same-sex marriages intact.

Amar said the petition’s main arguments appear to fall only under the jurisdiction of federal judges. Since the U.S. Supreme Court has already banned ProtectMarriage and its allies from defending Proposition 8 in federal court, it appears they have almost no legal recourse, he said.

“My guess is that the California Supreme Court will not be eager to wade into this because so much of this turns on federal questions,” Amar said.

The state Supreme Court in 2008 ruled 4-3 that the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the state Constitution’s equal protection clause. That led ProtectMarriage and its supporters to place Proposition 8 on the ballot, and it was approved by 52 percent of the voters.


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