Friday, July 24, 2009

City of San Francisco wants to redefine U.S. lawsuit on Prop 8; California Attorney General's Office remains silent

The city of San Francisco (many of our young readers do not understand that cities, counties, parishes, townships, and boroughs are political subdivisions of a state, and subordinate to the state; a state however is sovereign, but shares joint sovereignty with the federal government as outlined in the U.S. Constitution), asked a judge Thursday for permission to intervene in the federal lawsuit challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage, a request that may intensify the battle for control of the high-stakes litigation.

The leader of an organization that filed the suit against Proposition 8 has already accused established gay-rights groups of trying to undermine the case and promised to oppose their attempt to intervene. San Francisco raised the stakes Thursday by filing a similar motion with Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 19.

The city would add "a unique local government perspective" to the case, along with its extensive legal experience in defending gay and lesbian rights, if allowed to intervene, City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office said in court papers.

The California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 in May as a state constitutional amendment overturning the court's year-old ruling that recognized same-sex marriage in California.

Several days before the latest ruling, Olson and Boies filed their federal suit, arguing that Prop. 8 violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the law.

Citing states' rights, opponents expect the lawsuit in U.S. District Court to fail since the California Supreme Court is the highest authority on internal affairs of the state.

Gay-rights advocates and the city of San Francisco, plaintiffs in the state court case against Prop. 8, had steered clear of federal issues that might have given the U.S. Supreme Court jurisdiction to rule unfavorably on same-sex marriage. Now that the dispute is in federal court, however, the state plaintiffs want to join the argument but redefine the case.

Rather than simply claiming a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the city and the advocacy groups argue that Prop. 8, by taking rights away from gays and lesbians, is a discriminatory measure that violates federal equal rights standards, which the states ratified as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The California Attorney General's Office (who fought to make gay marriage legal, then sued the state for violating the California Equality Clause when Prop 8 passed), has yet to comment on the city's request.


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