A traditional-values group lost a bid to a U.S. appeals court in San Francisco today to become an official party defending California’s same-sex marriage ban against a federal lawsuit.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal in which the Sacramento-based Campaign for California Families sought to become an intervenor, or party, in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples in May.

The lawsuit challenging the ban enacted by voters last year as Proposition 8 is scheduled to go to trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco on Jan. 11.

In today’s ruling, a three-judge panel of the appeals court said the interests of the campaign for California Families will be adequately represented in the case by the proponents of Proposition 8 and their committee, ProtectMarriage.com.

Judge Margaret McKeown wrote, “It is apparent to us that the ultimate objective of the campaign and the proponents is identical–defending the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the principle that the traditional definition of marriage is the union of a man and a woman.”

McKeown added, “Any differences are rooted in style and degree, not the ultimate bottom line.”

Earlier this year, Walker ruled that the proponents of Proposition 8 could become an intervenor to defend initiative against the lawsuit.

The nominal defendants are various state and county officials, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, other state officers and county clerks have taken no position on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, and state Attorney General Jerry Brown has said he believes the measure is unconstitutional.

Later, Walker ruled that the city of San Francisco could join the case as an intervenor on the side of the two couples, but denied the Campaign for California Families and a coalition of gay community groups permission to become intervenors.

The campaign then appealed.

The campaign, like any other group with an interest in the case, still has the right to file advisory friend-of-the-court briefs.

The lawsuit was filed by Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo of Burbank on May 22, four days before the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 as being within voters’ right to amend the state Constitution.

The couples contend the measure violates their federal constitutional rights to due process and equal treatment.

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  • FlexSF

    Excellent news. The ninth circuit’s ears must have been ringing yesterday. Walker issued another order directing the proponents to hand over essential campaign documents to the plaintiffs. Then told them that they may be subject to contempt of court charges if they refuse them. The bigot proponents have been trying very hard to derail the trial, and the evidence that will be used against them, because the later the trial is in 2010 the better it is for them in an election season.

    The Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial begins on 1-11-2010 @ 8:30 AM, and we’re going to destroy it, thus resume our practice of marriage equality in California!