SAN FRANCISCO—The California Supreme Court announced today that it will hear legal challenges to Proposition 8, a newly passed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state. The court also announced that it had denied a request to put the law on hold while it deliberates, so gay couples will not be allowed to marry in the state until the court has ruled.
As soon as Proposition 8 passed two weeks ago—with 52 percent of the vote—three lawsuits were filed challenging the legality of the law. Among the petitioners were the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with several counties in the Bay Area and 44 members of the state Legislature. Earlier this week, Jerry Brown, the state's attorney general, who is tasked with defending the new law, agreed with the petitioners that the case merited the court's attention.
Many legal experts have said the law's passage has tied state law in knots, creating what some consider to be a constitutional crisis. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court declared a law with wording similar to Prop 8's unconstitutional, saying gays and lesbians had a fundamental right to marry and that denying them that right violated the state's equal-protection laws. When Prop 8 passed, it eliminated those rights by amending the Constitution through a simple majority vote.
Lynn Holton, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court, said the court had asked the parties involved to begin preparing briefs on whether Prop 8 should be considered invalid. Oral arguments could begin as early as March 2009.