Same-sex couples expect quick ruling on Prop. 8 appeal
Lawyers for two same-sex couples who are challenging Proposition 8 said Thursday that a federal appeals court ruling on the constitutionality of the same-sex marriage ban could come any day now that the California Supreme Court has ruled that initiative sponsors have the legal right to defend it.
Chad Griffin, board president of the Los Angeles-based American Foundation for Equal Rights, which launched the federal challenge, said he was glad the California Supreme Court has ruled in the case, even though the court rejected his group’s contention that ProtectMarriage, Proposition 8’s sponsor, lacked legal standing.
“We are thrilled to be out of the California Supreme Court and back into federal court, where this case has moved at great speed from the trial in federal district court” to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Griffin said. “I have always said that either way the California Supreme Court rules, we will ultimately achieve our goal, and that is Proposition 8 being erased from the books.”
He said he expects an appeals court ruling no later than February.
The California Supreme Court ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8 and other ballot measures are entitled to defend them in court when the state refuses to do so, a ruling likely to spur federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. The governor and state attorney general refused to defend Proposition 8.
In its ruling Thursday, the state high court stressed that the ruling had nothing to do with gay marriage.
“The resolution of this procedural question does not turn on the substance of the particular initiative measure at issue, but rather on the purpose and integrity of the initiative process itself,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote.
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 standing, or legal authority, to defend their measures. Many legal experts believe that the case will ultimately end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, which would decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.
-- Maura Dolan
Photo: Amber Weiss, left and Sharon Papo, right, walk down the main stairs in San Francisco city hall shortly after they couple was married on June 17, 2008, the first full day of issuance of marriage licenses for samesex couples. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times