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Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris urges appeals court to permit same-sex marriage

March 1, 2011 |  1:08 pm

164284.ME.0302.brown.6.DPB California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris urged a federal appeals court Tuesday to permit same-sex couples to marry during an appeal of last year's ruling that overturned Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned gay marriage.

In arguments filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Harris asked the court to lift a hold on a federal court order directing the state to permit gays to marry. U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who served on the bench in San Francisco, ruled that the marriage ban violated constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

Harris' argument follows a decision by the California Supreme Court to consider a question in the case that could put off a final resolution in the 9th Circuit for more than a year.

"For 846 days Proposition 8 has denied equality under law to gay and lesbian couples," Harris told the court. "Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law."

The federal appeals court recently asked the California Supreme Court to rule on whether the proponents of Proposition 8 have legal standing to defend the initiative in court when state officials refuse to do so. Last year, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. opposed imposition of the stay, pending appeal.

The state high court decided earlier this month to rule on the standing question. The court's answer probably will determine whether Proposition 8 is overturned on narrow, procedural grounds with limited impact or whether the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court on constitutional questions that could affect same-sex marriage laws throughout the country.

Proposition 8 passed with a 52.3% vote six months after the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was permitted under the state Constitution.


Prop. 8 opponents urge federal court to lift order preventing gays from marrying

California Supreme Court will decide key issue in same-sex-marriage legal fight

-- Maura Dolan

Photo: Kamala Harris speaks Tuesday in Anaheim. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times