Calif. high court asked to enforce Prop. 8

SAN FRANCISCO (BP) -- Proponents of Proposition 8 asked the California Supreme Court Friday (July 12) to order the state's county clerks to enforce the state's marriage amendment by ceasing the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in its June decision, did not rule on Proposition 8's constitutionality, and there's a 15-county jurisdiction limit of the trial court that originally ruled against the voter-approved amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

"Everyone on all sides of the marriage debate should agree that the legal process must be followed," Austin Nimocks, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said.

ADF filed the petition with the California Supreme Court, along with the general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, Proposition 8's official defenders.

SaveCalifornia.com, also supporters of traditional marriage, explained that the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court that ruled against Proposition 8 only extends to 15 counties, in the San Francisco Bay Area and along the Northern California coast.

"Therefore, homosexual 'marriages' are unlawful in at least 43 California counties," SaveCalifornia.com said.

After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay of the district court order June 28, ADF said the California state registrar ordered all county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses.

"Even though the registrar does not have the authority to issue such orders to county clerks, California Attorney General Kamala Harris publicly stated that she will take legal action against any clerk who declines to follow the registrar's directive," ADF said.

The district court's 2010 injunction against Proposition 8 does not bind all county clerks, ADF said in its petition, and the state Supreme Court's case law requires officials to execute their duties regardless of their views about the constitutionality of the laws.

ADF also noted that California's constitution "prohibits government agencies and officials from declaring state law unenforceable, or declining to enforce state law, on the basis that the law is unconstitutional, unless an appellate court has first made that determination."

The Ninth Circuit's decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry has been vacated, ADF said, so there is no appellate decision holding that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

"Petitioners are thus entitled to a writ of mandate requiring Respondents to comply with state law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman," ADF's petition said.

ADF and ProtectMarriage.com earlier filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Ninth Circuit lifted its stay prematurely, after saying the stay would remain in place "until the final disposition by the Supreme Court."

Under Supreme Court rules, the losing side in a legal dispute has 25 days to request a rehearing, and the court said it would not finalize its judgment in the Proposition 8 case until after that waiting period elapsed.

But Justice Anthony Kennedy denied that emergency request to halt the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses in California.

"The more than 7 million Californians that approved Proposition 8 have a right to see the rule of law -- and the constitutional initiatives that the people enact -- respected," ADF's Nimocks said.

Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, "Christians mistakenly may see this as simply more culture-war legal back-and-forth, of little import to anyone but television pundits. They're wrong.

"We're in the midst of a massive shift, culturally, politically and legally," Moore told Baptist Press in June. "Churches must be ready to speak, with convictional kindness, why we believe the Christian vision of marriage and sexuality is right. And we must root ourselves in the wisdom of our Baptist forebears to learn how to articulate the natural right of religious liberty and soul freedom."

Without California's marriage amendment, 29 states remain with constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman.


Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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