Calif. High Court Asked to Keep Marriage Amendment on Nov. Ballot

SAN FRANCISCO – Lawyers representing groups that oppose same-sex unions have asked the California Supreme Court to reject a bid to remove from the November election ballot a measure that would ban gay "marriage."

This past week, attorneys with Alliance Defense Fund and Protect Marriage filed a 46-page petition asking the court to leave Prop. 8 – better known as the California Protection of Marriage initiative – on the state's ballot.

The initiative would uphold an earlier measure that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Although over 60 percent of Californians had approved Proposition 22 in 2000, the California Supreme Court voted 4-3 in May to strike down this initiative and related California laws and allow same-sex couples to "marry."

If approved, Prop. 8 would override the decision by the state's High Court and amend the California Constitution with the traditional marriage definition. Proponents of the measure said they gathered 1.1 million signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Last week, Sen. John McCain endorsed the marriage amendement, saying he supported rights of Californians to define marriage as between a man and a woman, just as people in his home state of Arizona did.

"I do not believe judges should be making these decisions," he stated.

Sen. Barack Obama, however, said he would oppose the California ballot proposition.

Lawyers representing the pro-traditional marriage groups argue that the ballot measure is a valid way of correcting what they maintain was a flawed ruling from the state Supreme Court, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

"In reality, petitioners are challenging the sovereign power of the people to amend their constitution to override judicial interpretations of the constitution with which they disagree," the groups argue in court papers.

The lawsuit filed by ADF and Protect Marriage were in direct response to a suit filed two weeks ago in which gay "marriage" supporters asked justices to strip the initiative from the fall ballot.

Equality California, an organization that advocates on behalf of gays and lesbians, contends in the lawsuit that signers were misled as to the initiative's potential effect. The group also says Prop. 8 is a constitutional revision rather than an amendment and thereby cannot be decided by voters.

Ron Prentice, chairman of ProtectMarriage.com, said last month that the effort to thwart the measure was "an act of desperation."

"Backers of gay marriage have never secured anything close to a majority of Californians to support their position," he stated.

"They have had to rely on activist judges to do their bidding because voters do not support them. However, the People's right to vote on critical measures like this is of paramount importance and we believe the Supreme Court will rightfully allow voters to have their say."