California High Court Refuses to Revive Gay Marriage Ban

The California Supreme Court refused a request by backers of Proposition 8 to reinstate the measure, which banned gay marriage, after they lost a fight in the nation’s highest court to block same-sex weddings.

Proposition 8 supporters filed a lawsuit July 12 asking the state’s high court to order county clerks to enforce the gay-marriage ban, claiming the measure was still valid because a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month didn’t find it was unconstitutional. They sought an immediate injunction reinstating the law while the lawsuit proceeds.

“Although we would have preferred for the California Supreme Court to issue a stay so that the state’s marriage amendment would be respected sooner rather than later, the proponents of Proposition 8 will continue to urge the court to uphold the rule of law,” Austin Nimocks, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal group representing Proposition 8 proponents, said yesterday in an e-mail.

“We remain hopeful that the court will recognize that Proposition 8 remains the law of the land in California and that county clerks must continue to enforce it,” he said.

The court denied the request for an injunction reinstating the law in a one-sentence filing that didn’t give a reason.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision last month, reinstated a 2010 ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco allowing same-sex marriage, without deciding whether gays have a constitutional right to marry or even ruling directly on the voter-approved proposition. After the decision, an appeals court in San Francisco lifted its hold on the judge’s decision and state officials ordered gay marriages to resume.

Proposition 8 supporters alleged in their lawsuit that the 2010 ruling only applies to the two gay couples who sued to overturn the law and doesn’t require the 56 county clerks who weren’t defendants in that case to stop enforcing the ban.

Same-sex marriage was legalized by the California Supreme Court in 2008, before Proposition 8 was approved by 52 percent of voters in November of that year.

The petition case is Hollingsworth v. O’Connell, S211990, California Supreme Court (San Francisco).