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California Supreme Court lets Prop 8 ruling stand

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court today decided not to take up the Proposition 8 case, a "Hail Mary" bid by anti-gay forces to stop same-gender marriage in the Golden State.

The state's high court decision likely ends all legal challenges to Prop 8.

The decision elated Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

"Prop 8 is dead and never coming back," Griffin said.

"As we celebrate this great victory, we remember the 37 other states without marriage equality and the many other corners of our country where there is little to no protection for LGBT people on a range of issues, from workplace discrimination to bullying in schools to the ability to adopt children to access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. All of our energy must be put toward achieving full equality for everyone, everywhere."

“Today’s ruling means that two Supreme Courts, the United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court, agree that all loving, committed couples should have the freedom to marry in California,” said Jane Wishon, Marriage Equality USA board president. “The decision is right as a matter of law and as a matter of love.”

“Today’s decision finally marks the end of years of litigation by the Prop. 8 proponents to deny the freedom to marry to lesbian and gay couples in California. Today’s decision reaffirms that all loving, committed couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, have the freedom to marry in every county across the state,” said John Lewis, Marriage Equality USA legal and policy director.

“Whether you live in a small town in the Sierra, a rural community in the Central Valley, or in one of California’s major cities, it’s now clear that you have the freedom to marry in your hometown,” Marriage Equality USA board member Robert St.Genis said. “That’s the way it should be. All Californians should be treated fairly and equally.”

ProtectMarriage has waged a battle to protect the discriminatory law that California voters narrowly passed in November 2008, after one of the costliest campaigns filled with mistruths and lies. After Prop 8 took away marriage rights in California, a gay couple and a lesbian couple sued the state in federal court.

In 2010, federal court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. ProtectMarriage appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, starting a long legal fight that now apparently is over. The State of California declined to defend Prop 8 in the appeals court, leading the Ninth Circuit to ask the California Supreme Court if ProtectMarriage activists had "legal standing" to defend the law. After many more months passed, the state Supreme Court ruled that Prop 8 supporters did have standing. The Ninth Circuit Court then ruled in favor of the lower-court ruling, and the case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On June 26, 2013, the nation's highest court declared that ProtectMarriage did not qualify for "legal standing," which meant that Judge Walker's ruling was still in place.

Same-gender couples began marrying in San Francisco and Los Angeles on Friday, June 28. Some counties, including San Diego, lagged behind. San Diego County began marrying same-gender couples on Monday, July 1. But on July 19, San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg stunned the local community by using a noted anti-gay lawyer Charles Salvatore to ask the state Supreme Court to halt same-gender couples while seeing "clarity" on whether the Prop 8 law applied statewide or simply in two counties where the two plaintiffs sued. Dronenburg's actions, taken without consultation with the County Board of Supervisors, drew immediate and widespread criticism.

On July 23, the state Supreme Court hinted at its actions, announced today, by rejecting Dronenburg's petition. The County Clerk withdrew the petition on Aug. 2.

A similar petition remained before the California Supreme Court, but today the justices sent it to the trash bin.

In another piece of "tidying up," the district court on Tuesday, Aug. 7, officially filed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8. The district court notes that its Prop 8 case was officially closed on Aug. 27, 2012.