Calif.'s Prop 8 Backers File Emergency Petition to Supreme Court to Halt Gay Marriages

Supporters of California's Proposition 8 petitioned U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday, seeking an immediate halt to same-sex marriages that have been taking place in the state since an appeals court lifted the ban on Friday.

Attorneys filed an emergency petition to the Supreme Court to stop the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's "premature move" requiring same-sex marriage licenses in California before the Supreme Court's decision even goes into effect, Prop. 8's official sponsor ProtectMarriage and Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom said in separate statements on Saturday.

On Friday, soon after the appeals court dissolved a stay imposed on Prop 8, a California voter-approved amendment of 2008 that defined marriage as between one man and one woman, two same-sex couples who had petitioned the Supreme Court against the measure rushed to marry.

Gov. Jerry Brown's office issue a statement almost immediately after the appeals court's ruling, saying, "At the direction of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., the California Department of Public Health has notified clerks and registrar/recorders in all 58 California counties that same-sex marriage is now legal in California and that marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples immediately."

Attorney General Kamala Harris had urged the appeals court for prompt action, promising she would ensure that all counties in California were prepared to issue licenses to gay couples, according to The Associated Press.

Same-sex marriages were also conducted throughout Saturday.

According to Supreme Court procedural rules, "final disposition" comes when the Supreme Court issues a "mandate" to the Ninth Circuit, at least 25 days after announcing its opinion in the case, ProtectMarriage said in its statement Saturday. "The 25-day waiting period is provided to allow parties such as Prop 8's proponents to petition the Supreme Court for a re-hearing of the case."

"Everyone on all sides of the marriage debate should agree that the legal process must be followed," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks. "The 9th Circuit made a clear representation upon which all parties should be able to rely – that the stay would remain in place until final disposition by the Supreme Court," he added. "On Friday, the 9th Circuit acted contrary to its own order without explanation. Last year, the 9th Circuit itself reminded all parties to the Proposition 8 case that the 'integrity of our judicial system depends in no small part on the ability of litigants and members of the public to rely on a judge's word.' We agree."

Andy Pugno, General Counsel for ProtectMarriage, said, "We hope the Supreme Court will step in and restore some order here."

The application, filed by attorneys of Alliance Defending Freedom, stated that the Ninth Circuit's June 28 order purporting to dissolve the stay of the district court's injunction "is the latest in a long line of judicial irregularities that have unfairly thwarted Petitioners' defense of California's marriage amendment … Failing to correct the appellate court's actions threatens to undermine the public's confidence in its legal system."

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, which supports same-sex marriage, also issued a statement, saying, "Now that the Supreme Court has decided that the injunction against Proposition 8 must stand, it was entirely appropriate for the 9th circuit to dissolve its stay of that injunction."

However, Nimocks said their clients have not been given the time to make their next decision in the legal process. "The more than 7 million Californians that voted to enact Proposition 8 deserve nothing short of the full respect and due process our judicial system provides."

Currently, 12 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage.

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