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California governor orders marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples

California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] on Wednesday issued a statement [text] directing the California Department of Public Health (DPH) [official website] to instruct the state's counties to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who are seeking them. The licenses, however, will not be issued until the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit confirms that the stay of the injunction against Proposition 8 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive], California's same-sex marriage ban, has been dissolved. This statement was issued only hours after the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in Hollingsworth v. Perry [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that the petitioners lacked standing to appeal the district court's order striking down Proposition 8. The governor's statement was in response to a letter [text, PDF] by California Attorney General Kamala Harris [official website] stating, among other things, that the injunction will apply statewide in all 58 counties of California.

When Proposition 8 was initially struck down [JURIST report] in 2010 by US District Judge Vaughn Walker, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former attorney general and current Governor Jerry Brown, who were originally defendants in the lawsuit, refused to continue defending the measure on appeal [JURIST report]. This left defendant-intervenors Protect Marriage [advocacy website] and other groups to continue to defend the law and appeal the ruling. Wednesday's 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Justice Anthony Kennedy filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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