State High Court Rejects Second Bid To Stop Same Sex Marriages

For the second time in eight days, the California Supreme Court refused today to halt same-sex marriages in the state.

In a one-line order issued in San Francisco, the court turned down a request by San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg for an immediate stay of an order by state Registrar Tony Agurto requiring the state’s 58 county clerks to license gay marriages.

Agurto, acting on the instructions of Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, issued the order on June 28. Hundreds of same-sex weddings have been performed statewide since then.

The state high court on July 15 denied a similar request by the sponsors of Proposition 8, the state’s 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

Both the sponsors and Dronenburg claim in petitions filed with the court that Proposition 8 should still be in effect in most of the state, despite a June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision that dismissed an appeal by the sponsors.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling left in place a 2010 decision in which U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco said Proposition 8 was unconstitutional and issued an injunction barring its enforcement.

The initiative sponsors and Dronenburg claim the injunction applies only to two couples who challenged Proposition 8 in a lawsuit, while Brown, Harris and other officials say it extends statewide.

Twenty-four other county clerks, including eight from the Bay Area, told the court in papers filed Monday that they agree with Harris that the injunction and Agurto’s order apply to local clerks.

The Bay Area clerks supporting that position were from Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties.

The Proposition 8 sponsors’ and Dronenburg’s requests for a full review of their claims are still pending before the state high court, which has set a briefing schedule that ends Aug. 8.

If the court’s seven justices do grant review, the process of receiving further briefs, hearing arguments and preparing a decision would take at least several months.

In the meantime, there is no obstacle to continued same-sex marriages. The sponsors of Proposition 8 lost a separate bid to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy for a stay on June 30.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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