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San Diego County clerk withdraws Proposition 8 bid

San Diego County's clerk says his legal bid to resurrect Proposition 8 is unnecessary in light of ProtectMarriage's case.

August 03, 2013|By Maura Dolan
  • Bruce Fox, right, and Colum O'Hare apply for a marriage license in San Diego County last month.
Bruce Fox, right, and Colum O'Hare apply for a marriage license in… (Lenny Ignelzi, Associated…)

San Diego County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg Jr. said he was withdrawing his legal bid to resurrect Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage, because it duplicated efforts by the sponsors of the marriage ban.

Dronenburg said in a statement Friday that he decided to withdraw so the California Supreme Court could reach a speedy decision in the challenge by ProtectMarriage, the sponsors of Proposition 8. ProtectMarriage has argued that state officials had no right to order county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Dronenburg's legal action sparked criticism from gays and liberals and failed to attract support from other county clerks.

Gay marriage resumed in California in June after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ProtectMarriage had no legal standing to defend Proposition 8 in the place of state officials, who refused. The decision left in place a 2010 ruling by a federal judge that the measure is unconstitutional.

ProtectMarriage has argued that the judge's ruling was not binding statewide and that state officials erred when they ordered county clerks to stop enforcing the ballot measure. Written arguments were concluded last week, and the state Supreme Court could decide the challenge any day.

Dronenburg filed his bid several days after ProtectMarriage brought its case. He said in Friday's statement that because the court had not questioned the standing of ProtectMarriage to challenge the marriages, his involvement as a county clerk was unnecessary.

The clerk has argued that counties need legal guidance on whether they are obligated to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

"We need to be able to remove the uncertainty in this area as soon as possible," Dronenburg said.

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