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California court rejects challenge to same-sex marriage ballot initiative

[JURIST] The California Supreme Court Wednesday rejected [conference actions list, PDF] without comment a challenge [petition, PDF] seeking to remove a November ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriage in the state. The petition, filed by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy websites], argued that the amendment would deprive same-sex couples of fundamental rights. If approved by voters, the California Marriage Protection Act [ballot materials, PDF; proposition website] would amend the state constitution [text] to read, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." The ballot initiative comes in reaction to a May 15 California Supreme Court decision [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] overturning a ban on same-sex marriage in the state. The San Francisco Chronicle has more.

The approval of the ballot initiative came after the Attorneys General of ten states submitted a brief [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court of California [official website], asking it to stay its decision until after the November elections. They asserted that allowing same-sex marriages would cause citizens in their own states to become "marriage tourists" in California, and their own state courts would then face unfair, extensive, and burdensome litigation on whether to recognize the marriages. A conservative advocacy group filed a similar petition [JURIST report] requesting a stay until November. In May, the California Office of Vital Records [official website] issued a memorandum [JURIST report] setting June 17 as the start day for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The court's May 15 decision stemmed from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's 2004 decision to issue marriage licenses to 4,000 same-sex couples [JURIST report].

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