Gay marriage foes seek to halt California same-sex weddings

SAN FRANCISCO Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:23am EDT

A wedding cake at a reception for same sex couples is seen at The Abbey in West Hollywood, California, July 1, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A wedding cake at a reception for same sex couples is seen at The Abbey in West Hollywood, California, July 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Gay marriage opponents asked the California Supreme Court on Friday to stop same-sex weddings in the state and order that a voter initiative banning the nuptials remain in effect.

California voters passed the wedding ban, known as Proposition 8, in 2008 but a San Francisco federal judge struck down the initiative as unconstitutional. Last month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that backers of the ban did not have the legal right to appeal.

A federal appeals court then allowed gay marriages to resume, and a wave of ceremonies around the state began immediately. Same-sex marriage has been allowed in 13 states and Washington D.C., and gay rights advocates believe momentum is on their side to extend it further.

In court papers filed on Friday, however, the pro-Prop. 8 group asked the California Supreme Court to immediately tell county clerks that Prop. 8 remains in effect and order them to stop issuing wedding licenses.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris opined last month that clerks should issue wedding licenses.

Harris on Friday filed a brief with the state Supreme Court asking it to deny the request from the opponents of gay marriage.

"Today's filing by the proponents of Proposition 8 is yet another attempt to deny same-sex couples their constitutionally protected civil rights. It is baseless and we will continue to fight against it," Harris said in a statement.

Theodore Olson, who represented the gay couples that challenged Prop. 8 in court, called the latest court filing "a desperate and frivolous act." attorneys wrote in their brief that the injunction against Prop. 8 only applies to the two couples who were plaintiffs in the federal litigation, not to the state as a whole.

"Because those plaintiffs have recently been married, all relief due under that injunction has already been provided," they wrote, "and therefore none of the county clerks are required by that injunction to stop enforcing Proposition 8 in the future."

However, Olson said clerks are bound to issue the licenses.

"Any county that defies the federal court's injunction is at risk not only of contempt of court," Olson said in a statement, "but also a lawsuit under the federal civil rights laws for which it would be liable for damages and the plaintiffs' attorneys' fees."

Jim Campbell, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents, said his group has no current plans to seek to uphold Prop. 8 in any other court. The California Supreme Court's normal schedule for such a proceeding calls for the state to respond in 10 days, Campbell said, but the court could change that timeline.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Jim Loney and Eric Walsh)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (3)
hemlockroid wrote:
Couples seeking a confidential marriage license can bypass the County Clerk’s office through a non-denominational minister/notary public who can issue a license and marry the couple at the same time.

Jul 13, 2013 10:28am EDT  --  Report as abuse
kramartini wrote:
What a fascinating case, that should end up back in the US Supreme Court.

It is pretty clear that Prop. 8 is still valid law in California, but that the officials named in the Perry case are barred from enforcing it by the Federal District Court order. However, officials not named in the order are still obligated to enforce Prop. 8.

Thus, the California Supreme Court must order all officials named in this suit, but not directly named in the Federal order to enforce Prop. 8. This would be a mess, since some officials would be enforcing the law, while others would not, but would reconcile the valid state law with the Federal order.

This decision should then be taken to the US Supreme Court. There, it would seem that the Prop. 8 supporters would have standing, unlike in Hollingworth, since this will be a state case, not a Federal one.

And then the US Supreme Court will be forced to decide the issue once and for all.

Jul 13, 2013 12:21pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
wrpa wrote:
A law (or amendment to a state constitution) once found in violation of the US Constitution, as Judge Walker found, cannot be enforced against ANYONE, not just the named plaintiffs.This is not a “private remedy” between a plaintiff and a defendant. The filing of this case is the final gasp of bigotry.

Jul 13, 2013 4:00pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.