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Prop. 8 lawyers seek broad ruling at Supreme Court

The two lawyers leading the fight against the ban on gay marriage in California on Friday laid out their strategy as the case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ted Olson and David Boies, two nationally prominent attorneys who launched the legal attack on Proposition 8, served notice that they would seek a broad ruling national in scope at a time when public opinion has turned in favor of gay marriage rights.

“We are going to address all the issues, focused on the fundamental constitutional right to marry of all citizens,” Olson said Friday.

“We ought to have marriage equality as a constitutional right everywhere,” Boies added.

They maintained they were not concerned that the decision to hear the case puts in jeopardy their court victory for California gays who wish to marry. If the justices had simply turned down the appeal, gay marriage would have once again been legal in the state.

The high court agreed to hear the case Friday.

California’s battle over gay marriage began nearly nine years ago when San Francisco allowed same sex unions just before Valentine’s Day, 2004, drawing thousands of couples to City Hall and making the state a flashpoint in the national debate.

Those marriages were invalidated. Then the California Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that same sex marriage was legal. But a few months later, California voters outlawed it by approving Proposition 8, which amended the Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

For gay marriage backers, the excitement of Prop. 8 going to the Supreme Court was tempered by nervousness about how the conservative majority would land on the issue. Had the court not taken the case, an earlier appeals court ruling invalidating Prop.8 would stand and marriages could have begun.

“I think any time our gay issues go to the U.S. Supreme Court we are all filled with anxiety because you never know,” said West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, who is gay. “Whatever decision they make, if it’s adverse, we have to live with it for a generation.”

MAP: How gay marriage has progressed in the U.S.

In a sign of hedging bets, some activists said they were now mulling a 2014 ballot measure to repeal Prop. 8 if the Supreme Court upholds it.

Gay marriage foes were decidedly more ebullient, saying they liked their chances in front of the high court.

“Arguing this case before the Supreme Court finally gives us a chance at a fair hearing, something that hasn’t been afforded to the people since we began this fight,” said Andy Pugno, general counsel for Protect Marriage.com.

--Jessica Garrison, Matt Stevens and Ashley Powers

 
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