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California Supreme Court considering pivotal issue in gay marriage legal fight today

February 16, 2011 |  8:14 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/11/05/prop8.jpg

The California Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors Wednesday to deal with a pressing question in the legal battle over gay marriage in California.

The justices will review a request by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether Proposition 8's sponsors have the legal standing to defend the ballot measure that reinstated a ban on same-sex marriage.

A federal judge in San Francisco struck down Proposition 8 in August, ruling after a 12-day trial that the 2008 ballot measure violated equal-protection guarantees under the U.S. Constitution. Experts testified during the trial that one's sexual orientation was largely fixed and that matrimony benefits the families of gays and lesbians.

State officials refused to appeal the ruling. Now the 9th Circuit must determine whether Proposition 8's sponsors, ProtectMarriage.com, have legal standing to challenge the trial court's decision.

Depending on the state high court's ruling, the 9th Circuit could either dismiss the appeal on procedural grounds -- limiting the case's effect to California -- or rule on federal constitutional questions that would affect same-sex marriage throughout the country.

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Photo: Both sides battle during the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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