Bob Egelko, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The state Supreme Court will hear arguments March 5 on the validity of Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage that California voters approved in November.
The court said today that it would hold a three-hour hearing, from 9 a.m. to noon, at its chambers in San Francisco. The proceedings wi! ll also be televised statewide on the California Channel, the court said. A ruling is due within 90 days of the hearing.
Prop. 8, approved by 52 percent of the voters on Nov. 4, amended the state Constitution to declare that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. It overturned the court's May 15 ruling that recognized a constitutional right for gays and lesbians to marry.
The court will hear lawsuits by same-sex couples and a group of local governments, led by the city of San Francisco, challenging Prop. 8. The plaintiffs argue that a measure eliminating fundamental rights from a historically persecuted minority amounts to a revision of the Constitution and exceeds the power of initiatives.
A revision can be placed on the ballot only by a two-thirds legislative vote or by delegates to a state constitutional convention. The court has upheld such challenges to initiatives only twice in its history, in 194! 8 and 1990.
Opponents of Prop. 8 also argue that it! violate s the constitutional separation of powers by stripping the judiciary of its ability to protect a minority group. Attorney General Jerry Brown has sided with opponents of the measure and argues that it is invalid for another reason: that it abolishes "inalienable rights," guaranteed by the state Constitution, without a compelling justification.
The court has also asked the opposing sides to present arguments on whether 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California before Nov. 4 remain valid if Prop. 8 is upheld.
The initiative is being defended by its sponsors, a group called Protect Marriage. The group's lead attorney is Kenneth Starr, the former prosecutor in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
ShowMeNoHate encourages the entire St. Louis community to listen to the CA Supreme Court live arguments on www.calchannel.com on March 5th from Noon to 3 pm central time. If we secure a local venue open for the public to watch the live webcast from California, we will post it here by March 4th.