High court to take up gay marriage

March 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
On Tuesday, another important chapter in the battle over gay marriage begins. The landmark litigation over same sex marriage goes to the California Supreme Court. We take a look at the legal strategies on both sides.

Diane Sabin and Jewelle Gomez represent two of the faces behind the names in the lawsuit. They're among 19 same sex couples who are plaintiffs.

"I'm holding out hope that the Supreme Court is going to read the Constitution the way I read the Constitution, that it's meant for everyone and that all rights are for everyone," says Gomez.

The State Supreme Court justices stepped in once before to halt and invalidate gay marriages in San Francisco in 2004. They ruled the city's mayor had no authority to issue licenses. Now they'll decide whether the ban on same sex marriages violates the state's Constitution.

Jordan Lorence is with the Alliance Defense Fund, one of two conservative groups opposed to gay marriage. The crux of their argument to the justices will be that Prop. 22, passed by the voters in 2000, could be upheld.

"By almost two-thirds vote, they voted to define marriage as one man and one woman and there's been no provision of the state Constitution that that violates," says Lorence.

Gay rights attorneys expect California's domestic partnership law to be the focus Tuesday.

"The domestic partnership law is not good enough. It does not and cannot provide equality. Same sex couples in California are entitled to equal protection under the law. It's equal protection, it's not separate protection," says Jennifer Pizer with LAMBDA Legal.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera says seven other California cities have signed on in support.

"The depth and breadth of support for our position in this case has expanded tremendously. We even have the city of San Diego," says Herrera.

Whatever the court rules, gay marriage opponents are ready to go back to the ballot box.

"There will be an initiative on the ballot to amend the state Constitution. I think it will probably pass," says Lorence.

Tuesday's hearing will be three hours and the justices will issue a ruling within three months.