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California Supreme Court Rejects Clerk's Bid To Stop Same-Sex Marriages

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP/BCN) --  For the second time in eight days, California's highest court again refused Tuesday to block same-sex marriages in the state. But it will consider a petition arguing that a voter-approved gay marriage ban remains valid in all but two counties.

Without comment in a one-line order, the California Supreme Court rejected a request from the elected government official in charge of issuing marriage licenses in San Diego County for an order halting gay marriages, which resumed in the state last month for the first time since the ban passed in November 2008.

County clerk Ernest Dronenburg Jr. sought the stay on Friday. He also asked the seven-member court to consider his legal argument that same-sex marriages still are illegal in most of California, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision widely regarded as having authorized them and the state attorney general's assertion that clerks throughout the state must issue licenses to gay couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages to return to the nation's most populous state last month when it ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8 lacked authority to appeal a federal trial judge's decision that the ban violated the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian Californians.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling left in place a 2010 decision in which U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco issued an injunction barring Prop. 8's enforcement.

Dronenburg claims that the trial court's directive ordering the governor, attorney general and state public health director to cease enforcing Proposition 8 applies only to the two couples who sued to overturn the ban, and to the clerks in Alameda and Los Angeles counties, where the couples applied for marriage licenses.

Dronenburg, a Republican who was elected as San Diego County's assessor-recorder-clerk in 2010 and who has been known chiefly for his views on tax issues, also argues that county clerks aren't bound by orders from the governor, the state attorney general and the state officials who oversee marriage records.

He is being represented by Rancho Santa Fe lawyer Charles LiMandri, who donated $10,000 and loaned another $27,000 to the campaigns to qualify and pass Proposition 8, according to state campaign finance records.

The state high court has asked for more written arguments on those issues by Aug. 8.

The court last week rejected a similar request for a temporary hold on same-sex marriages from the sponsors of Proposition 8, who have made arguments similar to Dronenburg's about the scope of the trial court's injunction. Lawyers for Proposition 8's backers also have argued that because the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule directly on the measure's constitutionality, state officials are bound by state law to enforce it.

The sponsors of Prop. 8 also lost a separate bid to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy for a stay on June 30.

The California Supreme Court must dnow ecide if it will take up their case and has asked for additional written arguments by Aug. 1. If the court's seven justices do grant review, the process of receiving further briefs, hearing arguments and preparing a decision would take at least several months.

In the meantime, there is no obstacle to continued same-sex marriages.

So far, clerks in 24 counties - including eight from the Bay Area - have submitted briefs arguing that it makes sense for their actions with regard to issuing marriage licenses to be guided by state officials so that marriage laws are the same statewide.

The Bay Area clerks supporting that position are from Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco, the Associated Press and Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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