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Prop. 8 decision due today from California Supreme Court

Proposition 8
The California Supreme Court will issue a written opinion Thursday on whether conservatives who sponsored Proposition 8 are entitled to defend in court the measure that made same-sex marriage illegal in the state.

The court's ruling, which will be announced at 10 a.m., will determine whether initiative sponsors are legally entitled to defend their measures in state court when the governor and the attorney general refuse to do so.

If the court rules against the initiative backers, then a federal appeals court is more likely to rule that ProtectMarriage.com, the sponsor of Proposition 8, also lacks standing under federal law.

Gay rights groups want the state high court to deny standing to the initiative's sponsors. That could avoid a constitutional showdown on Proposition 8 that gays might lose before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The League of Women Voters has urged the California court to deny standing to initiative sponsors, as has Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris. But several other groups have called on the court to protect the initiative process by ensuring that elected officials cannot override the will of the voters.

Proposition 8’s fate is in the hands of the federal courts, which must decide whether ProtectMarriage was legally entitled to appeal the order overturning the measure. California's then governor and attorney general refused to appeal or defend the measure.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asked the California Supreme Court to clarify whether state law gives initiative backers special status to defend measures in court, but the appeals court won't be bound by what the California court determines.


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Photo: A Proposition 8 opponent stands outside the Philip Burton Federal Building before a ruling in the same-sex marriage ban in San Francisco last year. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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