Same-sex marriage measure defended

A Florida-based legal firm filed a motion in San Francisco court Monday defending a November ballot initiative opposing same-sex marriage — apparently without collaborating with the initiative’s supporters.

Liberty Counsel’s motion, filed in California Supreme Court, aims to block a motion filed June 20 by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, the ACLU and Equality California.

While the earlier motion sought to remove an upcoming ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage from the November ballot, Liberty Counsel’s motion seeks to keep it there, according to founder Mathew Staver.

If the initial measure passes, it would overturn a 4-3 California Supreme Court vote May 15 declaring same-sex marriages legal in California.

“Those four judges didn’t interpret the constitution; they put their own personal views on the issue,” Staver said. “But it’s not for the judges to decide.”

The ballot measure, which would change the California Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, qualified June 2 for the November ballot after supporters gathered more than the 694,354 signatures they needed.

Measure supporters at ProtectMarriage.com were surprised by the Monday motion, according to spokesman Jeff Slint.

"I’m sure they’re trying to be helpful, but I’m not sure why they’re doing it — we have adequate representation,” Slint said.

Proposition 22, the 2000 measure that defined marriage the same way, but did not change the constitution, won support from 61.2 percent of voters.

However, opponents from the National Center for Lesbian Rights say making such a dramatic change to the constitution is illegal and that Californians were not given the full picture when they signed petitions in May.

“We know letting gay and lesbian couples marry is going to bring in billions to the state economy through increased tax revenues, licenses and all the money people spend on their weddings,” legal director Shannon Minter said.

No court dates have been set for either motion. In the meantime, San Francisco representatives said they are sure same-sex marriage rights will prevail.

“We’re confident that same-sex marriage is here to say,” said Nathan Ballard, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom.

bwinegarner@sfexaminer.com

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