SAN DIEGO – The state Supreme Court today denied a request by San Diego County’s embattled clerk/assessor/recorder to temporarily halt same-sex weddings in California, a move he said he took in order to clarify legal issues and protect gay and lesbian couples.
Ernest Dronenburg filed the motion last week to find out how June’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on same-sex marriage affects voter-passed Proposition 8 and whether the decision applies to all of California, or just Alameda and Los Angeles counties, where the couples that challenged the ballot measure live.
He said he also wanted to know whether county clerks, who are elected by voters, are independent or governed by state officials.
Proposition 8, which defines marriage in the state as between one man and one woman, was declared unconstitutional in rulings by lower courts. The U.S. Supreme Court did not rule on the law’s merits, but declared that backers of the ballot measure did not have standing to bring an appeal.
The state’s high court issued its denial without comment. State Attorney General Kamala Harris said Dronenburg’s petition did not bring up any new issues, and that all 58 counties were bound to issue marriage licenses to same- sex couples.
Earlier today, Dronenburg said he filed the stay request to protect gay and lesbian couples, since supporters of traditional marriage had promised renewed legal action.
”I asked for a stay because it’s cruel to set up people,” Dronenburg told CBS8. ”In 2004, the last time there was a case, the court came out against it and they had to unwrap 4,000 marriages — that is hurtful.”
Dronenburg spoke to reporters after a group of gay and lesbian Republicans called for a county investigation of his request.
Despite his action, the county clerk’s office has been issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
After Dronenburg took the action last week, Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox said the clerk was acting on his own.
Supervisor Dave Roberts, who is gay, told U-T San Diego on Monday that he wants the board to meet with county lawyers to explore options for dealing with Dronenburg’s action.
According to published reports, Dronenburg received help in preparing his stay request from Charles LiMandri, an area lawyer who was a major Proposition 8 supporter.
At a news conference after June’s court ruling, LiMandri vowed to seek a court order blocking the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Dronenburg said the court action was filed at no cost to taxpayers.
Susan Jester, president of Log Cabin Republicans of San Diego County, which represents gay and lesbian GOP members, demanded the county clerk stop using his office to interfere with the law.
”I don’t believe it’s good government to mix your religious beliefs with your constitutional office duties,” Jester told NBC7/39. ”His job is to implement the law, not to try to change it.”