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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Much to Do as Gay Marriage Decision Looms

(CN) - San Francisco is bracing to learn as early as next week whether the U.S. Supreme Court will intercede in the fight to resume same-sex marriage in California.

The 9th Circuit found the gay marriage ban unconstitutional in February 2012, and refused to rehear the case in June, but it stayed that mandate for 90 days pending a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court by the backers of Proposition 8.

Anticipating a rush on city hall by protesters or same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses and ceremonies, San Francisco City Attorney Therese Stewart asked the 9th Circuit on Wednesday to give the city 24 hours notice before it lifts the stay.

"To ensure the health and safety of San Francisco's residents and visitors, the San Francisco Police Department would be grateful if the court could provide advance notice of its intention to issue its mandate in this case so that the department can plan for and deploy and adequate number of officers to the areas where protests are likely to occur," the letter states.

Stewart noted that there were heated demonstrations at San Francisco's civic center when the city sanctioned gay marriages in 2004 and briefly legalized them in 2008.

Even more likely will be the flood of same-sex couples looking to marry, she added.

"If the Supreme Court denies certiorari and the Ninth Circuit issues the mandate, the city anticipates there will be immediate and substantial demand from same-sex couples for marriage licenses and ceremonies," the letter states.

In the past, many couples waited for hours in line with their families and friends to apply for licenses, and ceremonies went on for weeks in every corner of city hall, Stewart said.

"Because four and a half years have passed since same-sex couples were last afforded the right to marry in California, and because San Francisco has been at the center of the struggle for equal rights for lesbians and gay men for many years, the city anticipates there may be a similar demand for marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies if the Ninth Circuit decision becomes final and the mandate issues permitting same-sex couples to marry," the letter states.

Matt Dorsey with the city attorney's office told Courthouse News: "It is really hard to predict what will happen."

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