California Attorney General Kamala Harris has filed a request with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow same-sex marriages while it considers whether to overturn Proposition 8, the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban.
In a letter to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Harris joined the lawyers for two same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco in seeking the resumption of gay marriages in California. The unions were put on hold while Proposition 8's sponsors appeal a trial judge's ruling striking down the ban.
Harris said those sponsors were unlikely to prevail in their appeal and that keeping the ban in effect was a fruitless violation of gay Californians' civil rights. "The public interest weighs heavily against the government sanctioning such discrimination by permitting it to continue," she wrote. Harris also said the case for allowing gay marriages was bolstered by the Obama administration's announcement last week that it would no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Harris is the former San Francisco District Attorney and a veteran equality advocate. Speaking in December 2010 at her first news conference as Attorney General-Elect, you'll recall that Harris reiterated a core campaign promise: "We will not defend Proposition 8 because it is simply unconstitutional."
In related news: On the same day that California AG Kamala Harris filed her request with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court has refused to expedite its timeline to rule on whether anti-gay groups have "standing" to defend Prop 8, which it agreed to do two weeks ago. The hearing is scheduled for September and the court will not move it up.