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Gay marriage opponents' right to defend ban may be decided by California Supreme Court

January 4, 2011 | 11:36 am

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has asked the California Supreme Court to rule on whether the groups that put California’s ban on gay marriages onto the ballot have the legal right to defend the ban in court.

DOCUMENTS: Read the court's opinion and other filings

A federal judge has previously ruled that the ban violates the U.S. Constitution. Because Gov. Jerry Brown, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state’s new Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris each have refused to defend the marriage ban in court, the groups which put Proposition 8 on the ballot are seeking to defend it on appeal. The question of whether they have the legal right to do so is key to whether the ban will remain in force.

That question will now go to the California Supreme Court, which will advise the federal judges about whether, under California law, the official supporters of a ballot initiative have the right to defend it in court if the governor and attorney general decline to do so.

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-- David Lauter

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