Colorado, other states ask court to delay same-sex marriage ruling
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
SAN FRANCISCO ” The attorneys general of 10 states have joined conservative legal groups in urging the California Supreme Court to delay finalizing its ruling to legalize same-sex marriage.
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed late Thursday, they said they have an interest in the case because they would have to determine if their states would recognize the marriages of gay residents who wed in California.
The states involved are Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. Except for Florida and New Hampshire, all of them have constitutional provisions banning gay marriage.
The attorneys general asked the court to stay its May 15 ruling until after the November election, when California’s voters likely will decide whether to adopt a similar amendment, which would overturn the court’s decision. The court’s decisions normally take effect after 30 days.
What happens in California is being watched carefully elsewhere because unlike Massachusetts, the only U.S. state where same-sex couples can now marry, California does not have a residency requirement for obtaining a marriage license.
“We reasonably believe an inevitable result of such ‘marriage tourism’ will be a steep increase in litigation of the recognition issue in our courts,” Utah Attorney General Mark L. Shurtleff wrote in the brief submitted on behalf of the 10 states.
New York Gov. David Paterson, meanwhile, has indicated that state plans to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, meaning New Yorkers who get married in California would be entitled to spousal support, and other marriage rights at home.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown, whose office originally argued to uphold the state’s one man-one woman marriage laws, submitted its own brief Thursday urging the Supreme Court not to grant the stay.
“The Court has declared the law governing the right of same-sex couples to marry, and the Attorney General undertakes to give effect to that declaration with no less vigor than he previously sought to give effect to the statutes in dispute,” Brown’s brief states. “It is time for these proceedings to end.”
The Supreme Court has until the close of business on June 16 to decide the stay request, but it also could give itself a 60-day extension to consider matter. The California Office of Vital Records informed local officials this week they can start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on June 17, barring further instructions from the court.
“The court’s decision firmly establishes there is a fundamental right to marriage equality for same-sex couples under the California Constitution,” said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, whose office joined two dozen same-sex couples in bringing the lawsuit that led to the court’s 4-3 decision. “To deny that fundamental right based on speculation about what might happen in November is terribly inappropriate.”
Ron Prentice, chairman of the coalition sponsoring the proposed California Marriage Protection Act, said he welcomed having other states support the stay request.
“Redefining marriage will affect the entire nation, not just California,” Prentice said. “There is no good reason for these four judges to create nationwide chaos when a ballot measure to reverse the decision is pending before the voters.”
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