Same-sex marriage cases move to California Supreme
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
November 7, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The question of whether same-sex
couples have a right to marry under the California constitution
has moved a step closer to the state Supreme Court.
The state Court of Appeal in San Francisco issued an order late
Monday declining to reconsider an Oct. 5 ruling in which the court
said gay and lesbian couples do not have a right to marry.
The panel's action means the next step in the case is an appeal
to the state high court. Shannon Minter, a lawyer for 12 gay and
lesbian couples, said they will definitely appeal.
Minter said, "We are still very hopeful that when the case
reaches the state Supreme Court they will do the right thing."
The deadline for filing an appeal with the state high court is
Nov. 14. The court then will have up to 90 days, or until Valentine's
Day, to decide whether to take up the case.
If the state Supreme Court does not agree to accept the case,
the Court of Appeal ruling will become the final decision in the
Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for California Attorney General Bill
Lockyer, said, "We always knew that the state Supreme Court
was going to be the ultimate arbiter in this case."
Lockyer's office has been defending state laws that define marriage
as being between a man and a woman.
Several lawsuits seeking a right to marry were filed by 20 same-sex
couples and by the city of San Francisco.
Last year, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer
ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that same-sex couples
are entitled to marry.
But that decision
was overturned by the Court of Appeal last month.
A three-judge appeals panel said by a 2-1 vote that the Legislature
and voters had a rational basis for restricting marriage to opposite-sex
couples while at the same time giving same-sex couples equal benefits
through the state's domestic partnership system.
The court majority said, "Courts simply do not have the
authority to create new rights." It said any change must
come from the Legislature or a voter initiative.
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