Calif. Supreme Court Takes Up Same-Sex 'Marriage'

Conservative legal groups will face off with gay rights groups before the California Supreme Court Tuesday in a precedent-setting hearing that will determine whether two people of the same sex can marry.

Alliance Defense Fund and Liberty Counsel will be representing two pro-family groups who argue that the court should not redefine marriage for the sake of family, culture and children.

A brief submitted by ADF on behalf of Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund highlighted a ballot initiative, defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman, California voters overwhelmingly approved in 2000. The group has warned that the court would be guilty of judicial activism if it were to overturn the will of the people.

"The government should promote and encourage strong families. In this case, marriage laws that will do that are under attack by political special interests wishing to further their agenda," said Glenn Lavy, an ADF attorney.

"The law California voters passed defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Californians know this is the foundation for strong families. But certain special interest groups are trying to bypass the democratic process by asking the court to redefine marriage."

Attorneys representing same-sex "marriage" advocates, on the other hand, have likened the gay "marriage" ban to racial discrimination and thereby unconstitutional.

Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex couples to legally marry.

The hearing is the culmination of years of the California high court's tackling with the marriage issue.

In 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed some 4,000 gay and lesbian couples to wed in city hall. The state high court later voided all the same-sex "marriage" certificates, ruling that the mayor had overstepped his authority.

Lawsuits arguing for and against same-sex "marriage" were lodged in the California court system and consolidated in a case argued before Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer. In March 2005, Kramer declared that the state's marriage laws were unconstitutional, but his ruling was reversed by the California Court of Appeals in October 2006.

The California Supreme Court will review the 2006 ruling through six lawsuits – four of which were filed by the city of San Francisco and same-sex couples in support of same-sex "marriage." The other lawsuits were filed by the Campaign for California Families (CCF) and the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund in defense of the current definition of marriage.

Attorneys arguing for legalization of same-sex "marriage" in Tuesday's hearing will represent the City of San Francisco and three separate groups of plaintiffs representing 23 same-sex couples from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Parties arguing in favor of preserving California marriage laws will include the state attorney general, a lawyer representing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund, and CCF.

In addition to the hearing, the seven justices will also consider the legal arguments contained in thousands of pages of briefs submitted by over 40 interest groups.