San Diego County clerk files petition to halt same-sex marriages

San Diego County clerk files petition to halt same-sex marriages
Rika Grier, left, and her partner Pastor Nicki Fairley, wait to obtain a license from the San Diego County marriage bureau. The San Diego County clerk is seeking to block the issuance of marriage licenses for same-sex couples. (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)

SAN DIEGO -- The clerk of San Diego County filed a legal action Friday with the California Supreme Court seeking to block the issuance of marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

The filing on behalf of Ernest Dronenburg Jr., a Republican and elected official, was immediately criticized by state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris as containing "no new arguments that could deny same-sex couples their constitutionally protected civil rights. The federal injunction is still in effect, and it requires all 58 counties to perform same-sex marriages."

The county Board of Supervisors sought to distance themselves from Dronenburg's action, which was filed for him by Charles S. LiMandri, a Rancho Santa Fe attorney and leader of the bid to restrict marriage between men and women.

"The county clerk has acted independently on this matter,'' said board chairman Supervisor Greg Cox. "No one else from the county was consulted or had any part of this court action, including the Board of Supervisors. The county's position is and always has been that we, the county, will follow applicable law with regards to same-sex marriage."


The weddings resumed June 28, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively allowed a lower-ruling against Proposition 8, the measure that banned gay marriage, to become law.


The petition argues that the state does not have the right to order counties to perform same-sex marriages because the question of Proposition 8's legality is still before the courts.

Supervisor David Roberts said that as soon as he heard what Dronenburg had done, he immediately demanded a meeting to find out his motives.

"I was livid, to say the least," Roberts said. "As the first LGBT supervisor, with a married partner, I felt this was a slap in the face. But he says that's not what this is about. We'll see."

Roberts said that Dronenburg told him that he merely wants legal clarification and has no intention of refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples. If that occurs, Roberts said, the county supervisors will immediately move to prevent it.

"We aren't going to let that happen," Roberts said. "We believe in the law."

Dronenburg, 69, was elected in 2010 as the county's recorder/assessor/clerk. A Republican, he is a former member of the state Board of Equalization for 20 years.

[Updated at 5:50 p.m.: Randy Thomasson, president of, commended Dronenburg for "keeping his oath to 'support and defend' … the California Constitution."

In a statement, Thomasson called same-sex marriages "completely illegal and unconstitutional, despite what tyrannical statewide officials or judges have opined."]

[Updated at 5:30 p.m.: Gov. Jerry Brown is traveling out of the country, but his spokesman issued a statement supporting same-sex marriage.

"We remain confident that the federal injunction applies to all 58 counties and same-sex marriage remains legal in California,'' said the governor's spokesman, Evan Westrup.]