Lawsuit seeks to annul California gay marriages

Opponents of same-sex marriage in California filed suit on Friday to annul thousands of legal gay marriages that were formalised in the state. Californians voted last month in favor of a constitutional ban on gay unions known as "Proposition 8."


AFP - Opponents of same-sex marriage in the US state of California, who won a referendum blocking the unions last month, filed suit Friday to annul thousands of gay marriages conducted in the state this year.

Californians in a November 4 referendum on "Proposition 8" voted 52.1 percent in favor of a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which the state Supreme Court had ruled permissible in June allowing some 18,000 gay couples to wed.

Also on Friday, California's Attorney General Edmund Brown called on the Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8 on grounds it deprives people of a right the high court deemed was guaranteed by the state constitution.

"Proposition 8 must be invalidated because the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification," Brown said in a statement.

Proposition 8 was backed by Christian conservative groups intent on reversing the Supreme Court decision that struck an article from the state constitution defining marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman.

Referendum proponents known as the "Protect Marriage" coalition on Friday took their campaign one step further, petitioning the Supreme Court to annul the gay marriages officiated so far in California.

"Proposition 8's brevity is matched by its clarity," the group said in its legal brief. "There are no conditional clauses, exceptions, exemptions, or exclusions: 'Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.'"

The anti-gay marriage initiative follows three lawsuits against Proposition 8 already filed in the Supreme Court, which last month said it would take up the issue at an undetermined date.

Two suits seeking to invalidate the plebiscite-backed constitutional amendment were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the non-profit, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender agency Lambda Legal.

A third lawsuit has been filed by the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Clara.

Gay activists and officials in Los Angeles and San Francisco have said Proposition 8 implies a major constitutional revision requiring a more complicated process than a simple amendment, which is how the proposition advocates define their initiative.

Neither the ACLU nor Lambda returned AFP calls Friday for comments on the latest court filing.

Proposition 8 advocates on Friday also announced they had beefed up their legal team with former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who investigated the Monica Lewinsky affair during former president Bill Clinton's tenure.

Starr, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, will plead Proposition 8's case before the Supreme Court, the activists said.

After Proposition 8 passed, only two US states now allow marriage between people of the same gender: Massachusetts and Connecticut. Many other states expressly ban gay marriage in their constitutions.

Gay activists have been on the move since Proposition 8 was passed, organizing several demonstrations chiefly against the Mormon Church, which provided crucial funds for the California proposition campaign.

On December 10, gays across the United States held a "Day Without a Gay" demonstration, urging homosexuals to skip work as part of a protest against growing anti-gay sentiment.

Among the thousands of gay couples who tied the knot since June are talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres who married partner Portia de Rossi, and Japanese-American actor George Takei, better known as Star Trek's Mr Sulu, who married longtime partner Brad Altman.

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