Digest of coverage of the Cal. Supreme Court’s refusal to stay its marriage ruling

“Gay couples cheer California high court ruling”

Associated Press

The California Supreme Court’s announcement Wednesday cleared the final hurdle for same-sex couples in the nation’s most populous state to wed beginning June 17, when state officials have said counties must start issuing new gender-neutral marriage licenses. Bottom of Form

Ronald Prentice, executive director of the coalition sponsoring the November measure, predicted the court’s refusal to put the brakes on its historic ruling would motivate gay marriage opponents to vote for the ban. “Certainly it was our hope that one or more members of the majority decision would recognize that they had overstepped their bounds, and would allow the November vote to speak on behalf of the state’s citizens,” Prentice said. “We are obviously disappointed by their continued arrogance to overrule the will of the people.” Glen Lavy, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, which filed the leading stay request and is part of a coalition backing the fall ballot measure, said taking the issue to the federal courts was not an option because the Supreme Court did not give his group legal standing in the case. “This was a 4-3 vote for legal chaos,” Lavy said. “This refusal to wait until the constitutional process is played out confirms that this is kind of agenda-driven.” . . .

Court refuses to delay start of same-sex marriages until November

The Examiner

A legal effort to delay same-sex weddings until November, when a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman goes before voters, was rejected by the state’s highest court, leaving the aisle open for weddings to take place statewide June 17. In San Francisco, happy hour for gay and lesbian couples could start sooner — when the clock strikes 5 p.m. on June 16.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that city officials are looking to extend the hours of the Office of the County Clerk beyond 5 p.m. — it currently closes at 4 p.m. — on that date in order to marry same-sex couples as soon as possible. . . . Glen Lavy, senior attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, said same-sex couples are “manipulating the democratic process” and partnering with judicial activists. “[The court] has inflicted years of legal chaos quite possibly on the entire country,” Lavy said in a written statement . . .

“California court says gay marriages can proceed”



California’s Supreme Court gave the final green light on Wednesday for gay marriages to begin later this month, turning down requests for a delay . . . “This is another four-to-three vote for legal chaos,” Glen Lavy, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, which is fighting against gay marriage, said in a statement. “This decision is the most egregious case of judicial activism in modern American history. The refusal to wait for the people to decide by the constitutional process confirms that.”

Massachusetts is the only U.S. state that allows same-sex marriage, but offers licenses only to its own residents. California has no residency requirement, which means gays from across the United States will be able to go there to marry. San Francisco, internationally known for its gay community, briefly allowed homosexuals to marry four years ago before a court ended the ceremonies. The legal battle that followed culminated in last month’s decision. Gay marriage remains a topic of hot debate in U.S. politics. More than 25 states have constitutional amendments barring gay marriage . . .

“California Supreme Court rejects gay marriage delay, as fight goes on”

Sacramento Bee

It’s this simple: Gay couples will begin marrying in California in less than two weeks . . . The high court’s ruling also raised uncertainty among the state’s county clerks who issue marriage licenses and who will no longer pronounce couples as “husband and wife.” State officials have moved to strip such gender-specific words from state forms – perhaps using less romantic terms such as “Party A” and “Party B” to reflect gender-neutral language. The state’s Family Code will have to be reworded, although it appeared unlikely the Legislature and governor could act before June 17. Opponents of the May 15 ruling that overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage predicted “legal havoc” if the unions were allowed before the November election. Their motion for the court to stay its decision argued that the only “proper voice” on the issue was that of the voters, not the courts. “The court has not only ignored the will of the people and imposed a redefinition of marriage on Californians, it has inflicted years of legal chaos quite possibly on the entire country,” said Glen Lavy, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, one of the groups opposed to the ruling. . . . “We fully expect that Utahans will go to California to get married,” said Paul Murphy, a spokesman for the Utah attorney general’s office, one of 11 states that sought a delay in California. Utah prohibits same-sex marriage, and “Utah wouldn’t recognize the marriage,” Murphy said. Some gay couples in California who plan to wed later this month said they proceeded under the assumption the court would not delay its ruling . . .

“State high court won’t stay same-sex nuptials”

San Francisco Chronicle

The state Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for lesbian and gay couples to begin marrying in California later this month, rejecting opponents’ request to suspend its ruling legalizing same-sex weddings until voters consider the issue in November. The justices’ unanimous order denying a stay was denounced by conservative organizations that support a constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall to overturn the ruling, while a lawyer for same-sex couples predicted it would increase public acceptance of gays’ and lesbians’ newly won marital rights. “People will see their friends, neighbors and co-workers engaging in this very cherished ritual, and I believe it will continue to push the California voting public in the direction of assuring that the Constitution does not treat people differently,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The organization represented couples who filed suit challenging the state law that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Glen Lavy, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which had asked the court to reconsider its ruling, countered that Wednesday’s order could increase support for the constitutional amendment “if the public perceives that as an effort to manipulate the vote.” He called the order “a vote for legal chaos.” Another lawyer for opponents of same-sex marriage, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, said, “I don’t believe at the end of the day the people will allow four judges to rewrite marriage.” . . . “If any same-sex marriage licenses are issued before November, the passage of the constitutional amendment will make them invalid and invisible,” said Staver, who represented the Campaign for California Families before the court. Some legal analysts have maintained, however, that couples who rely on the court’s ruling in deciding to marry will obtain rights that the voters cannot revoke.

“Calif. Supreme Court Won’t Delay Same-Sex Weddings”


Oakland, Calif., attorney Jon Eisenberg has some advice for same-sex couples looking to say ‘I do’ on June 16: “Don’t get married in a fever.” The appellate specialist isn’t just channeling Johnny Cash. Even though the California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay its May 15 decision legalizing gay marriage, obstacles remain for same-sex sweethearts who want to tie the knot when the ruling becomes final at 5 p.m. on June 16. As Eisenberg notes, the Supreme Court last month remanded the case to the 1st District Court of Appeals “for further action consistent” with the 4-3 majority’s opinion. The appellate court is then expected to direct the original San Francisco trial court to issue a writ directing county clerks to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The process could take a few days, potentially creating a window of legal uncertainty for those who want to marry before the trial court issues its final ruling. “As a practical matter, if a court clerk wants to start marrying people on June 16 at 5:01 p.m., I don’t see why they can’t because, frankly, who’s going to challenge it? That would be almost cruel,” said Eisenberg. But, he added, “If I were in a same-sex relationship and wanted to get married I’d wait a few weeks … I’d say don’t get married in a fever if you want to make it as legally solid as possible.” . . . Staver said Liberty Counsel is now preparing to ask the 1st District Court of Appeal to stay its own order in the case once it’s received from the state Supreme Court. “All you need is a majority to create a stay,” Staver said, noting that a split 1st District panel originally upheld the state statute banning gay marriage. “We don’t think this case is anywhere near over.” But Leslie Gielow Jacobs, a constitutional law professor at McGeorge School of Law, said it would be “highly unusual” for the appellate court to issue a stay given the Supreme Court’s “clear signal” on gays’ and lesbians’ rights to marry. Glen Lavy, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, said his clients, who also asked the Supreme Court to stay its decision, would not join Liberty Counsel in petitioning the 1st District. “We believe the case is over,” Lavy said. “We think the appropriate procedure would be to wait until November.” . . .

“Court Won’t Delay Same-Sex Marriages”

The New York Times

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay its landmark decision allowing same-sex marriage, clearing the way for gay weddings to begin statewide later this month. Two conservative legal groups and attorneys general from 10 states had asked the court to stop the same-sex ceremonies until a ballot measure intended to ban such unions was taken up by California voters in November. The court denied the requests without comment, removing the final legal barrier to what is expected to be a stream of same-sex weddings. As was the case with the decision on May 15 legalizing same-sex marriages, three of seven justices dissented. “The decision filed on May 15, 2008, will become final on June 16, 2008, at 5 p.m.,” the one-page decision concluded. In San Francisco, which has been at the heart of the issue since 2004, when more than 4,000 same-sex couples were married in defiance of state law, Mayor Gavin Newsom said marriages would begin as early as “5:01” on June 16. Mr. Newsom added that the city would expand hours to accommodate those couples who wanted to marry as soon as possible. Giselle Barry, a spokeswoman for the mayor, added that the city’s goal was to marry as many as 5,000 couples by the November election. Not surprisingly, opponents of same-sex marriage criticized the court’s decision. “This is another 4-to-3 vote for legal chaos,” said Glen Lavy, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund in Scottsdale, Ariz., which had asked for a stay. “The court has not only ignored the will of the people and imposed a redefinition of marriage on Californians, it has inflicted years of legal chaos, quite possibly on the entire country.” . . .

Calif. Supreme Court Refuses to Stay Its Marriage Ruling


The highest court in California Wednesday refused to stay its May 15 decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. Reaction was swift and strong on both sides of the issue, with defenders of traditional marriage calling the new decision a “crime against democracy,” while proponents of same-sex marriage declared it “the death knell for gay marriage objectors in California.” Rick Scarborough, president of the conservative group Vision America, issued a news release on Wednesday blasting the ruling as “an affront to democracy.” “I don’t know why they don’t just hang a sign outside the California Supreme Court building that says, ‘Until further notice, representative government hereby suspended by court order,’” Scarborough stated. “Two weeks ago, the California high court created a ‘right’ to homosexual marriage out of thin air,” he noted. “In so doing, the majority declared unconstitutional a 2000 referendum for a statute providing that marriage in California consists only of the union of a man and a woman.” . . . “Never in the annals of judicial tyranny has an activist court made such a brazen move. “I would not be surprised if pro-family forces launch a drive to recall the justices who committed this crime against democracy,” Scarborough added . . . But Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, told Cybercast News Service that he was “sharply critical” of the decision to withhold the stay. “Once again, the California Supreme Court has shown contempt for the democratic process by ignoring more than 1.1 million California voters who signed petitions placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November,” Perkins stated . . .