SAN FRANCISCO -- California’s chief law enforcement officer urged the state high court Monday to refuse once again to stop same-sex marriages while the justices consider a legal bid to revive Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned gay nuptials.
Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, responding to a request filed Friday by San Diego County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg Jr., told California’s top court that stopping gays from marrying now would amount to an unconstitutional interference with a federal court order.
“The public interest weighs sharply against issuing a stay in this case,” Harris’ office argued. “After years of litigation, there is now a final determination that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”
Dronenburg urged the California Supreme Court to rule that Gov. Jerry Brown and other statewide officials lack supervisory powers over elected county clerks, who issue marriage licenses, and may not order them to stop enforcing Proposition 8.
In her written response to the latest challenge, Harris suggested that her legal analysis prodded the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to take “the extraordinary step” of removing a legal hold on same-sex marriage before a June 26 Supreme Court decision became final.
The San Diego clerk’s petition was the second challenge to same-sex marriage filed since the high court ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8 had no legal right or “standing” to appeal the 2010 injunction by retired Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker.
Supporters of Proposition 8 contend that Walker's injunction applied at most to two counties -- Los Angeles and Alameda -- because they were the only two counties named in the injunction and in the lawsuit challenging the ballot measure.
Harris countered that the injunction applied statewide because it also ordered Brown and other statewide officials to stop enforcing Proposition 8, and those officials have authority over county clerks.
The California Supreme Court last week unanimously rejected a request by the sponsors of Proposition 8 to put a hold on the marriages and is expected also to turn down Dronenburg's bid.
A final decision on both legal challenges is not expected until August, at the earliest.