The California Supreme Court has
announced it will hear oral arguments in the battle to define
marriage in the state on March 5, guaranteeing a final decision
The court announced Tuesday that three
hours – from 9 to 12 – will be devoted in San Francisco to hear
the arguments behind a petition to invalidate Proposition 8, the
state's gay marriage ban.
Proposition 8 was approved by the
voters of California on November 4. It yanks back the right of gays
and lesbians to marry in the Golden State. Its passage uncorked a
volcano of pent-up emotions from previously silent – mostly young –
gays and lesbians across the country who organized protests, marches
and vigils against the prohibition. The state Supreme Court
recognized the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry in May. But
by June a coalition of mostly religious groups had formed to place
Proposition 8 on the ballot.
A blizzard of friends-of-the-court
briefs have been filed for and against the measure that eventually
became the most expensive social ballot issue in American history;
over $83 million was spent in the fight.
Gay rights groups and their allies have
argued that Proposition 8 is invalid because it removes an existing
constitutional right. In a surprise move, Attorney General Jerry
Brown, the state's top attorney, sided with gay marriage proponents
in his brief.
Opponents of gay marriage are mounting
a vigorous defense and have suggested that justices voting down the
measure might face a political backlash at the polls.
Kenneth Starr, dean of the conservative
Pepperdine law school who is known best for prosecuting Bill Clinton,
will defend the measure.