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Gay marriage backers expect 'quick victory' despite Prop 8. ruling

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.

Backers of same-sex marriage predicted they would end up victorious despite a California Supreme Court decision Thursday that the sponsors of Proposition 8 and other ballot measures are entitled to defend them in court.

"While a disappointing ruling, this case is now back in federal court, where we expect a quick victory," Lambda Legal's Jon Davidson. "The ruling addresses only a procedural legal question. The key question underlying this case is whether the U.S. Constitution permits a state electorate to treat one group of people unequally to everyone else by depriving them of what the state's high court has held to be a fundamental right. A federal court has already ruled that it may not. We look forward to seeing that decision upheld so that same-sex couples in California may once again enjoy the freedom to marry.

FULL COVERAGE: Proposition 8

The state high court’s decision, a defeat for gay rights groups, sets the stage for action in federal courts -- which could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court -- that would affect marriage bans outside California.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering an appeal of a trial judge’s ruling that overturned Proposition 8, had asked the California court to clarify whether state law gives initiative sponsors the standing, or legal authority, to defend their measures.

State officials are entitled to champion ballot measures in court, but the governor and the attorney general have refused to defend Proposition 8.

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-- Maura Dolan

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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