Thursday, November 20, 2008

Legal battle over Calif. marriage amendment opens new chapter


California's Supreme Court has issued a temporary order upholding Proposition 8, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. (See video report)

On Election Day, voters in the Golden State -- 52 percent to 48 percent -- passed Prop. 8, amending the state constitution in favor of traditional marriage and turning back a summertime ruling by the state highest court legalizing same-sex "marriage." Now that same court will hear several legal challenges to the voter-approved measure.

Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute explains that the court will keep Prop. 8 in place, but will hear three of six lawsuits filed to strike it down. "They're going to be hearing arguments on the matter, probably in January," says the attorney. "This is not good for the defense of marriage in that this state Supreme Court is willing to seriously entertain overriding the voice of the voters of California."

And overruling the voters' decision is a serious matter. Andrew Pubnow, an attorney for Yes on Prop. 8, wrote in legal papers: "When using the initiative process to amend the Constitution, the people exercise their sovereign power of self-government. The three branches of government must accord profound respect and great deference to that authority."

According to Dacus, there is another reason this week's ruling is a setback. "This state Supreme Court is the same court that legalized homosexual marriage in the first place," he points out. "And the fact that they have decided to go ahead and seriously considering striking it down is very disturbing." Homosexual activists, he adds, are trying to force on the peoplesomething that is against their will.

Constitutional authorities in the Golden State say it all comes down to the difference between and "amendment" and a "revision." Opponents of Prop. 8 argue it is a revision, which can only be accomplished legislatively -- through a constitutional convention or a proposal from the state legislature that is then ratified by the voters.

The state Supreme Court has refused to allow homosexual couples to marry before it issues a ruling, expected in the coming weeks.

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