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Gay marriage debate goes back to court today

December 19, 2008 |  7:13 am

The legal battle over gay marriage will heat up again today, when the first briefs in the lawsuit over the validity of Proposition 8 are due to the California Supreme Court.

Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, was approved by 52% of California voters last month, throwing into question thousands of marriages performed during the five months the practice was legal in the state.

The day after the election, gay-rights advocates, including the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, filed lawsuits to invalidate the proposition.

California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, who opposed Proposition 8 but is legally bound to defend the state’s laws, and his staff were still polishing his brief Thursday night.

In the past, Brown has said that he believes the estimated 18,000 marriages should remain valid. He has also said he plans to “defend the proposition as enacted by the people of California.”

Also expected to be filing a brief is the Protect Marriage Coalition, which put Proposition 8 on the ballot. Its brief is expected to argue that the court should invalidate the marriages.

The issue facing the justices is whether Proposition 8 was a constitutional revision, instead of a more limited amendment.

A revision of the state Constitution can only go before voters after a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or a constitutional convention. Proposition 8 was put on the ballot after a signature drive.

--Jessica Garrison