Supreme Court ruling sets stage for more legal wrangling in California

Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:11pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California's attorney general said same-sex weddings would resume statewide within weeks, if not sooner, despite further litigation threatened by opponents after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday paved the way for gay marriages in the state.

The high court refused to hear an appeal by gay marriage opponents of a lower-court opinion overturning a 2008 voter-approved state constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 8, that defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.

California Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris moved swiftly to direct officials in the state's 58 counties to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples once the court ruling takes effect, expected to occur in 25 days.

But Prop 8 supporters insisted that legal wrangling over the issue would continue and argued that Wednesday's Prop 8 ruling should be binding only on the two same-sex couples who brought suit against the gay marriage ban in May 2009.

Harris, who declined to defend Prop 8 against their court challenge, said her office would take action to enforce removal of the ban "in the unlikely ... event that any county decided to violate the law."

California in 2008 briefly joined a handful of states then recognizing gay matrimony, and some 18,000 same-sex couples were wed during a five-month window between a state Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage and passage of Prop 8 in November of that year.

In August 2010 then-U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker declared Prop 8 unconstitutional following a three-week trial that marked the first challenge in federal court to any state law barring same-sex matrimony.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later stayed Walker's ruling to keep the gay marriage prohibition in effect until the case had finished running its course.   Continued...

Jason Howe, 48, and Adrian Perez (L), 48, who were married in Spain, and again in California, hold their one-year-old twin daughters Clara (R) and Olivia at a playground in West Hollywood, California after the United States Supreme court ruled on California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson