legal group asked the California supreme court on Thursday
to put off finalization of its decision legalizing same-sex
marriage until voters get a chance to weigh in.
Alliance Defense Fund wants the ruling stayed until
November, when voters will probably encounter a ballot
measure that would amend the state constitution to ban
gay marriage. That amendment would overturn the
In court papers
submitted late Thursday, the group warned that the state
would suffer ''great public harm and mischief'' if it began
allowing same-sex marriages on June 16, when the
court's decision would ordinarily become final.
attorneys also said implementing the ruling in the meantime
would be an unnecessary expense for the state and cause
unneeded confusion for couples.
decision to take effect immediately -- in light of the
realistic possibility that the people of California might
amend their constitution to reaffirm marriage as the
union of one man and one woman -- risks legal havoc
and uncertainty of immeasurable magnitude,'' the
attorneys wrote in the petition.
started planning weddings and making appointments to secure
marriage licenses immediately after the justices overturned
the state's gay marriage ban on May 15.
A cloud of
uncertainty lingers over the pending unions, however. A
coalition of religious and social conservative groups is in
the process of putting a measure on the November
ballot that would write a gay marriage ban into the
have until June 18 to verify the signatures needed to
qualify the amendment for the election, according to the
Defense Fund. A preliminary count by 37 counties
indicates that the initiative has a high chance of
being put to voters, the group said in its petition.
attorneys asked the supreme court to hold a hearing on when
its decision should take effect or to amend it to prevent it
from being implemented for now.
''The people of
California have a constitutional right to vote on
marriage, and we trust the high court will respect the
democratic process,'' said Defense Fund senior counsel
Glen Lavy, who argued before the court for maintaining
the state's one-man, one-woman marriage laws.
logistical nightmares the attorneys predicted are counties
scheduling different start dates based on their ability to
create new, gender-neutral marriage licenses and the
question of whether marriages sanctioned during the
five-month window would be annulled if the amendment
majority did not give a deadline for county clerks to start
issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But it
directed state officials "to take all actions
necessary to effectuate our ruling," including
requiring county marriage clerks to carry out their
duties "in a manner consistent with the decision of this
The Defense Fund
is representing the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and
Education Fund, a California group that is part of the
coalition spearheading the proposed amendment.
Approving a temporary stay, the Defense Fund argued,
is justified until voters have the chance to decide in
November the fate of marriage in California.
until June 16 to consider the Defense Fund's petition,
according to Jennifer Pizer, an attorney with the gay rights
legal group Lambda Legal. They also could grant
themselves an additional 60 days to assess it, Pizer
Pizer, who is
planning an October wedding, said that even if the stay
request results in delays, gay and lesbian couples should be
heartened by the supreme court victory.
in all of this is, society generally and those of us
who are affected most urgently have to recognize that we
have momentous, joyous moments of breakthrough but the
process of social and legal change proceeds step by
step," she said. (AP)