CA Supreme Court Rejects Prop. 8 Proponents’ Appeal To Stop Same-Sex Marriages

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac06de7f970d-800wiThe California Supreme Court has rejected the requests put forth by backers of Prop. 8 to halt same-sex marriage in California. The court had previously denied a request to at least temporarily stop same-sex marriage in California, which resumed shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court's dismissal of Hollngsworth v. Perry on the grounds of standing, while it considered the legal challenges raised by Prop. 8's proponents. The LA Times reports:

Meeting in closed session, the state high court rejected arguments by ProtectMarriage, Proposition 8’s sponsors, that only an appellate
court could overturn a statewide law.

A federal judge in San Francisco declared Proposition 8
unconstitutional in 2010, and state officials refused to appeal.
ProtectMarriage did appeal, but the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled in June that initiative sponsors have no right to defend their
measures in federal court. The decision left in place the ruling by
retired Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker.

In its challenge before the
state’s highest court, ProtectMarriage argued that a single judge
lacked the authority to overturn a state constitutional amendment.  The
group also contended that Walker’s injunction applied to two counties at
most and that state officials had overstepped their authority by
ordering county clerks throughout California to issue same-sex marriage

State officials countered that the challenge was a veiled attempt to
persuade a state court to interfere with a federal judge’s order in
violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The California Supreme Court's ruling also applies to the briefs filed by San Diego county clerk, Ernest J. Dronenburg, thus putting to an end, at least for now, his contentious attempts to stop same-sex couples from marrying in the Golden State. BuzzFeed reports that California Attorney General Kamala Harris welcomed the court's rejection of the writ of mandate:

"Once again, equality and freedom triumph in California. The California
Supreme Court has denied the Proposition 8 proponents’ latest attempt to
deny same-sex couples their constitutional right to marry. I applaud
the Court’s decision and my office will continue to defend the civil
rights of all Californians."


  1. bronwen says

    I’m wondering, still, why there has been no official response from the SD Board of Supervisors, as a whole, about Dronenburg’s actions. That tactic–to just ignore it, especially now that it’s been rejected by the Court–is really cowardly.

  2. JamesInCA says

    @Bronwen – Dronenburg withdrew his action after two days of closed-door meetings with the SD Board of Supervisors. Some of the Supervisors made their personal opposition to his actions very public. But, as he’s an independently elected official, they don’t actually have oversight of him as they would other county officers.

    It looks to me like they sent him a very clear message, and he got it. And in a very purple, formerly red, county, it’s not really surprising the Board as a whole might choose to keep the whole thing at arm’s length.

  3. bronwen says

    @Jamesinca — Yep, I get it. I’m just appalled at the fact that the Board wouldn’t make a statement condemning the homophobic overtones of his actions (even if they can’t condemn him). Sending a message to Dronenburg is one thing. Sending a message to the citizens of the county is quite another.

    You can bet if this situation had other kinds of overtones, such as gender discrimination, the Board would have made such a statement. The situation with Mayor Filner has certainly shown us that elected officials care (and certainly *should* care) about such issues.

  4. Bill says

    indicates that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors discussed Dronenburg’s behavior in a closed-session meeting and delayed any decision.

    One complication may be that Dronenburg is an independently elected official. It also wasn’t clear if he had violated the county’s administrative code. Also, Dronenburg’s office
    continued to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples during the time the case meandered through the courts.

  5. Fox says

    Great news … But on another note it appears that the ugly stain of Prop H8 is just going to sit there in State of California Constitution (Article 1, Section 7.5). So how does it get removed? Also, I’m wondering if the state legislature has the authority now to at least change the state Family Code that covers marriage to reflect the reality that same-sex marriage is legal and valid in the state? If so, they should do it now when we still have a democratic-controlled senate and assembly and an attorney general and governor who support us. Currently, the code reflects the language of Prop H8 in the constitution.

  6. JJ says

    So their argument was that the state has a law that they claim nullifies any federal district court decision that purports to overturn a California law. Wow. I’m not even a lawyer and I wonder how these guys passed their BAR exams. Can you lose your law license making an argument this stupid?

  7. Keith says

    @Fox. You’ve asked a very important and valid question. As a California resident, the stain of PropH8 still exists, and if there were ever an anti-gay governor or attorney general elected in the state, then this fight would certainly start up all over again, as it’s not officially and permanently stricken from the law books, it’s just not enforced because current elected officials did not wish to appeal Judge Walker’s ruling. Until the US Supreme Court makes a final ruling on the constitutional rights of all citizens to marry the person of their choosing, then this stain will remain and the other side will plot and hope to reinstate its enforcement sometime in the future.

  8. Fox says

    @Keith – I don’t even think a US Supreme Court ruling like the one you’ve suggested would do it. Because as we’ve seen, it’s now years and years after Lawrence v. Texas and some states still have sodomy laws on the books. I’m no legal expert, but I think states have do get rid of these things on their own. Revising the applicable Family Code in California might be possible by the legislature and governor alone; but changing the state constitution? It may have to go to vote just like the original Prop H8 did ?????

  9. circuitmouse says

    Dronenburg is entitled to his own opinions (which do NOT belong in the workplace), but shouldn’t he be charged with dereliction of duty and dismissed from his post?

  10. Fox says

    @Circuitmouse – Yeah, we all know Dronenburg is a tool, but as an elected official, I believe he can only be recalled via special election or resign on his own. And if this becomes an issue in his next re-election campaign, I’m guessing his defense will be that he was only asking for “clarification,” since both the California Constitution and applicable Family Code on marriage (which his office uses to issue marriage licenses) say different than what he was being directed to do. – jmho

  11. Bill says

    @Fox: to delete it from the document unfortunately would take another ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment, which requires more signatures than for ordinary laws. The legislature can’t do it on its own. Don’t know if a court can rule that it be removed from the document (as opposed to simply being declared unenforceable).

    If you need a new initiative, don’t hold your breath – you’d need about $1,000,000 just to gather enough signatures. and then you’d have the usual initiative battle as the pro-prop-8 people try to keep it there anyway.

  12. Fox says

    @Bill – That’s what I figured, but do you know if the California legislature can now take steps to modify the State’s Family Code (which defines marriage and provides the steps for licensing marriage) so that the code can reflect what’s going on in the real world?

  13. Craig Nelson says

    I thought the legislature could use a 2/3 majority to put the question on the ballot. It’s worth doing if public support is very strong but might confuse the issue so I think best left for a while to allow marriage equality to become embedded. It would be very confusing if attempted but failed – wouldn’t change the law (same sex couples would still be able to marry) but would be a propaganda coup for our opponents.

  14. Jere says

    If these folks are just looking for a state court to rule that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, could the CA Supreme Court simply allow a hearing on this issue and rule immediately and have the whole thing done in a day or two? I’ve never been sure why this stuff always has to take months.

  15. Fox says

    @Craig – Yeah, I agree. I don’t want a ballot measure on the Constitutional level at this time either. Like you say, let it get embedded. But I am still curious as to whether a change to the state code can be done? I notice that in Iowa – another state where marriage equality was won through the courts some time ago – that their state code still has not been changed to reflect reality. (There, the ban was not in their constitution, only the code.) But there are so many anti-gay forces still at work in that state, that I understand why this hasn’t been pursued there. Here in California, the current legislature and Governor would probably have passed marriage equality via the legislative route if it hadn’t have been for Prop. 8.

  16. Fox says

    Jere – The California Supreme Court upheld Prop. H8 back in 2009. The opinion was 6-1. And 5 of those 6 justices are still on the bench.