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State High Court Hears Arguments On Appeal Of Prop 8 Ruling

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Opponents of a same-sex marriage ban demonstrate on the steps of the State Building in San Francisco, September 6, 2011. (KCBS/Holly Quan))

Opponents of a same-sex marriage ban demonstrate on the steps of the State Building in San Francisco, September 6, 2011. (KCBS/Holly Quan))

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – At a hearing in San Francisco Tuesday morning, California Supreme Court justices seemed inclined to recommend allowing the sponsors of Proposition 8 to appeal a federal trial court ruling striking down the initiative.

The state high court was asked by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to give an advisory opinion on that aspect of the case. The federal appeals court is considering the appeal by the sponsors of the ban on same-sex marriage.

The question before the court is whether state law gives an initiative’s sponsors the right to appeal when the state’s governor and attorney general refuse to do so.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said, “An initiative measure is an indication of the voters’ will.”

She said “the purpose and integrity of the initiative process” are at stake in the question of who can appeal.

“This issue transcends Proposition 8,” the chief justice said.

Theodore Olson, representing two same-sex couples, argued that the state Constitution gives only the attorney general, not private citizens, the right to appeal in such cases.

But Justice Joyce Kennard said, “It appears to me that to agree with you would be to nullify the great power of the initiative that the people have reserved to themselves.”

The court took the case under submission after an hour of arguments and now has 90 days to issue a written ruling.

After the state court rules, the case will go back to the federal appeals court for a final decision.

Before oral arguments were presented to the California Supreme Court Tuesday morning, supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage demonstrated on the steps of the State Building in San Francisco.

Same-sex supporters had announced they would hold a “No Standing for Prop 8” sit-in before the 10 a.m. hearing at the State Building on 350 McAllister St. in San Francisco.

They were quickly joined on the State Building steps Tuesday morning by banner-waving supporters of the same-sex marriage ban.

Sit-in organizer Billy Bradford with Marriage Equality USA said in a statement, “Same-sex couples and their families will once again stand up for their love and dignity by attending the hearing and staging (the sit-in) beforehand.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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