After fighting same-sex marriage for four years, the state Thursday urged the California Supreme Court to reject petitions that would delay enforcement of the court's landmark ruling permitting gays to wed.
"This historic litigation is now concluded," wrote Senior Assistant Atty. Gen. Christopher E. Krueger in a brief filed with the high court. "It is time for these proceedings to end."
In the brief, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said he plans to enforce the court's May 15 ruling "with no less vigor" than he previously sought to defend state laws that limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.
California's change of heart came as 10 other states, including Florida and Utah, filed a brief in support of a request by gay-marriage opponents to delay the effective date of the court ruling. The offices of attorneys general of Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah protested that their states, which restrict marriage to unions of a man and a woman, would be inundated by litigation seeking to have them recognize same-sex nuptials in California.
California is prepared to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning June 17, although the mere filing of the petition could delay same-sex marriages until mid-July, or, at the latest, mid-August, court officials said.
The Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund had asked that the date be put off until after the November election, when a ballot measure will ask voters to reinstate the ban on same-sex marriage.
California, however, argued that the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund has no legal standing in the case. The state said the group's request was improperly asking the court "to enjoin the exercise of a newly recognized fundamental constitutional right based on speculation that voters will abolish that right in the future."
The delay "would have the effect of mingling judicial processes with political processes, and would be tantamount to anticipatory implementation of the proposed initiative even before it is submitted to voters," Krueger argued.
"To the extent that the law may hereafter be changed by the political process, that process should proceed independently and separately," he wrote.
Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, which also has asked the court to delay the effect of the ruling, said he was not surprised that Brown's office now wants to allow same-sex marriage.
"The state has given a tepid response and done a surface job of defending" the marital laws, Staver said. "They did the minimum of what was required of their job."
He said his group and others have a right to be heard by the California Supreme Court because "we have argued this case from the very first day."