Proposition 8 backers on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to jump into the gay marriage fray and restore California's voter-approved ban on same-sex nuptials.
In a widely expected legal move, ProtectMarriage.com urged the high court to review a federal appeals court's decision earlier this year invalidating Proposition 8. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the law unconstitutional because it stripped away the previous right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
Gay rights advocates last month asked the Supreme Court to decline the case, saying the justices should leave the 9th Circuit's ruling intact. In that brief, lawyers for same-sex couples called the 9th Circuit's ruling "straightforward" and confined to California's unique circumstances, arguing there is no need for the Supreme Court to address the broader legal questions surrounding gay marriage.
But in Wednesday's reply to that argument, Proposition 8 lawyers say same-sex marriage supporters are backing away from previous vows to win gay marriage rights in the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Plaintiffs are now contradicting themselves by urging the Supreme Court to stay out of the case and deny us all a definitive answer to the question whether the U.S. Constitution requires the legalization of same-sex marriage in California," said Andrew Pugno, Proposition 8's general counsel.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to accept the case when it returns soon for its fall term, most likely in the waning weeks of the presidential election. The justices also must decide whether to weigh in on a number of legal challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government's ban on marriage benefits for same-sex couples.
A federal appeals court in Boston and a San Francisco federal judge have declared that law unconstitutional.
Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz.