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Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris urges court to allow same-sex marriages during Prop. 8 appeal

Harris argues that the hold must be removed because the appeal of last year's ruling that overturned Proposition 8 is taking more time than expected.

March 02, 2011|By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times
  • California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, addressing the California Police Chiefs Assn. in Anaheim, on Tuesday asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a hold on a federal court order directing the state to permit gays to marry.
California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, addressing the California Police… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris urged a federal appeals court Tuesday to permit same-sex couples to marry during an appeal of last year's ruling that overturned Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned gay marriage.

In arguments filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Harris asked the court to lift a hold on a federal court order directing the state to permit gays to marry. U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who served on the bench in San Francisco, ruled in August that the marriage ban violated constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

Harris sided with two same-sex couples who sued to overturn Proposition 8 in arguing that the hold must be removed now that the appeal is taking more time than expected. The delay was caused by the entrance into the case of the California Supreme Court, which will determine the legal rights of initiative sponsors.

"For 846 days Proposition 8 has denied equality under law to gay and lesbian couples," Harris told the court. "Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law."

The 9th Circuit asked the California Supreme Court to determine whether Proposition 8's sponsors have the legal authority to defend the measure on appeal in place of state officials, who have refused to do so. The state high court has indicated it would not rule until late this year.

On Tuesday, the court issued a one-sentence order denying a request for an accelerated hearing on the issue. The court said a hearing would not be held until September at the earliest.

The California court's decision will probably determine whether Proposition 8 is overturned on narrow, procedural grounds with limited effect or whether the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court on constitutional questions that could affect same-sex marriage laws throughout the country.

Proposition 8 passed with a 52.3% vote six months after the state's high court ruled that same-sex marriage was permitted under the state Constitution.

maura.dolan@latimes.com

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