State court urged to deny challenge to gay marriage

California Attorney General Kamala Harris urged the state Supreme Court on Monday to turn down the latest bid to stop same-sex marriages, saying, “The federal injunction overrides state law.”

Harris argued in a filing with the court in San Francisco that the panel should deny the request by San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg for a stay of a state order requiring clerks to resume issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Lawyers from Harris' office wrote that Dronenburg has “no likelihood” of winning his claim that Proposition 8, California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, is still valid in most of the state.

The voter initiative was enacted in 2008 and struck down two years later by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. An injunction by Walker blocking enforcement of the measure was left in place when the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal last month by Prop. 8 supporters.

The petition filed Friday by Dronenburg is similar to one filed a week earlier by the supporters of Prop. 8. Both argue that Walker's trial court-level injunction had the authority to mandate only the marriages of two couples who challenged Prop. 8 in a civil-rights lawsuit.

Last week, the state high court turned down the sponsors' request for a stay in a brief order. But Dronenburg argues in his petition that his situation is different because he is in a “legal limbo” since he believes Prop. 8 is still in effect but would face a threat of legal action from Harris if he were to deny marriage licenses.

Harris argued in the response filed Monday that Walker had the power to issue a statewide injunction because the federal constitutional rights of all gay and lesbian couples are at stake.

Meanwhile, in another case seeking to halt marriages, Hollingsworth v. O'Connell, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a brief on Monday with the state high court saying the lawsuit “goes beyond desperation.” San Francisco was named in the lawsuit.

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