Appeals court won't force state officials to defend Prop 8

An opponent of Prop 8 waves an American flag during a rally to celebrate the ruling to overturn Prop 8 on Aug. 4, 2010 in San Francisco, California.
An opponent of Prop 8 waves an American flag during a rally to celebrate the ruling to overturn Prop 8 on Aug. 4, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A California court has refused to order Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to appeal a ruling that overturned the state's gay marriage ban.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday denied a conservative legal group's request to force the officials to defend voter-approved Proposition 8.

Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland did not explain why the appeals court turned down the request filed two days earlier by the Pacific Justice Institute.

The institute now plans to take the matter to the California Supreme Court, Chief Counsel Kevin Snider said Thursday.

"We are disappointed that the appellate court showed indecisiveness in trying to prevent a constitutional crisis," Snider said. "They didn't want to deal with it."

The institute maintains the attorney general and governor have the duty to uphold all laws, not just those with which they personally agree.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional last month.

The measure approved by 52 percent of California voters in November 2008 amended the state Constitution to outlaw same-sex unions five months after the state Supreme Court legalized them.

The state has until Sept. 11 to challenge Walker's ruling. Both Brown and Schwarzenegger have said they don't plan an appeal.

The coalition of conservative and religious groups that sponsored the ban has appealed the ruling by Walker. But doubts have been raised about whether its members have authority to do so because as ordinary citizens they are not responsible for enforcing marriage laws.

Twenty-seven members of the California Assembly sent Schwarzenegger a letter this week urging the governor to bring an appeal if Brown will not.

© 2010 The Associated Press.

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