Final briefs filed in same-sex marriage cases
Photo by Luke
By Julia Cheever
November 14, 2007
A long-running legal dispute about the constitutionality of
same-sex marriages in California came a step closer yesterday
to an expected final resolution by the state Supreme Court sometime
Yesterday 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.
Yesterday'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 yesterday 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."
Yesterday'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.
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