Calif. Supreme Court denies stay on gay marriage ruling

Chris Amico Jun. 4, 2008, 3:00pm

Jerry Brown

Mark Shurleff

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)--Same-sex couples in California can legally marry beginning June 17, a divided state supreme court has decided, refusing to grant a stay sought by opponents of gay marriage and 11 state attorneys general.

The decision comes a day after California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat, certified a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman for the November ballot.

If passed, the measure would supersede the Supreme Court's May 15 ruling, which said California's constitution guaranteed gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

Attorney General Jerry Brown on Wednesday said the ruling makes sense.

"The decision on gay marriage was a close one, it was deeply contested, but the court made its decision," the Democrat told reporters in Los Angeles. "It was a very well reasoned decision, and there's no likelihood they would change their mind. Based on that, it should go into effect."

Asked what would become of marriages performed between now and November, should the initiative pass, Brown responded: "I would presume that they're valid."

The other states argued in amicus briefs to the California court that the ruling would lead to a flood of litigation in their own states, something they hoped to avoid if Golden State voters decide to once again outlaw same-sex marriage in November.

Brown argued against the stay, saying the court had made its decision.

Arguing on behalf of the state attorneys general requesting a stay, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurleff, a Republican, wrote:

"Certainly if the new California definition of marriage continues past November, the resulting litigation in our courts of the recognition issue will have the virtue of being both necessary and unavoidable under the principles of 'our federalism,' principles to which we are all committed."

In its 4-3 ruling not to stay the decision, Chief Justice Ronald
George, and Associate Justices Joyce Kennard, Kathryn Werdegar and Carlos Moreno voted to deny rehearing.

Associate Justices Marvin Baxter, Ming Chin and Carol Corrigan would have granted rehearing.

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