Final briefs filed in same-sex marriage cases

A long-running legal dispute about the constitutionality of same-sex marriages in California came a step closer today to an expected final resolution by the state Supreme Court sometime next year.

Today was the deadline for filing the final round of written briefs with the high court in San Francisco.

Court spokeswoman Lynn Holton said that step now clears the way for the next stage of the case, a hearing on oral arguments by lawyers for groups supporting and opposing same-sex marriage.

The court has not yet scheduled the hearing, but Holton said it is expected to take place “within a few months.”

After the hearing, the panel's seven members will have three months to issue a written decision.

The court is considering a total of six lawsuits. Four were filed by the city of San Francisco and a total of 19 gay and lesbian couples seeking the right to marry.

The other two lawsuits were filed by a pair of traditional values groups, the Campaign for California Families and the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund, opposing same-sex unions.

The California attorney general's office is also a party in the case, defending state laws that restrict marriage to the union of a man and a woman.

In earlier proceedings, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in 2005 that same-sex couples have a state constitutional right to marry, but a California appeals court overturned that decision last year by a 2-1 vote.

In addition to the official parties in the case, several dozen sets of religious groups, other organizations and individuals including law professors have been allowed to participate by filing “friend of the court” briefs on both sides.

Today's final deadline was for the filing of responses to the friend-of-the-court briefs.

One of the responses was filed by San Francisco, which among other arguments disputed a friend-of-the-court brief in which four religious groups argued that marriage is “an enormously important public policy question” outside the jurisdiction of the courts.

The city's brief says that while the issue has public policy implications, it is at heart “an individual rights claim that the judiciary must resolve.”

A total of 144 other religious groups had joined in September in different friend-of-the-court briefs supporting same-sex marriage.

Another of the briefs filed today was lodged by the Campaign for California Families in opposition to same-sex unions.

The campaign argued, “The definition of marriage as the union of one woman and one man has transcended law, geography, social custom and religious rights for millennia.”

The campaign argued, “Nothing has been presented to this court, either by the parties or by the amici, to change that reality.”

Today's filings ended a lengthy briefing process that began exactly a year ago, on Nov. 13, 2006, when the city of San Francisco filed a petition for review of the appeals court ruling.

— Bay City News

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City College union deal staves off layoffs, class cuts

One year agreement allows community college time to improve its finances

Chelsea Hung, who owns Washington Bakery and Restaurant in Chinatown with her mother, said the restaurant is only making about 30 percent of pre-pandemic revenues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chinatown’s slow recovery has business owners fearing for the future

Lack of outside visitors threatens to push neighborhood into ‘downward spiral’

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new stimulus plan on Monday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner file photo)
More Californians would get new $600 stimulus checks from the state under Newsom plan

Sophia Bollag The Sacramento Bee Two-thirds of Californians would get an extra… Continue reading

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Police searching for suspect in deadly Polk Street shooting

Police are looking for a suspect in a shooting that left one… Continue reading

San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and members of the orchestra were thrilled to be back inside Davies Symphony Hall on May 6 in a program for first responders featuring string works by Jean Sibelius, George Walker, Carl Nielsen, Caroline Shaw and Edward Grieg. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Symphony)
SF Symphony makes joyful return to Davies Hall

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts program for first responders and community leaders

Most Read