California Supreme Court Requests Further Briefing on Gay Marriage Cases

Via Legal Pad comes word that the California Supreme Court has requested briefing on four questions relating to the question of gay marriage:

1. What differences in legal rights or benefits and legal obligations or duties exist under current California law affecting those couples who are registered domestic partners as compared to those couples who are legally married spouses? Please list all of the current differences of which you are aware.

2. What, if any, are the minimum, constitutionally-guaranteed substantive attributes or rights that are embodied within the fundamental constitutional “right to marry” that is referred to in cases such as Perez v. Sharp (1948) 32 Cal.2d 711, 713-714? In other words, what set of substantive rights and/or obligations, if any, does a married couple possess that, because of their constitutionally protected status under the state Constitution, may not (in the absence of a compelling interest) be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature, or by the people through the initiative process, without amending the California Constitution?

3. Do the terms “marriage” or “marry” themselves have constitutional significance under the California Constitution? Could the Legislature, consistent with the California Constitution, change the name of the legal relationship of “marriage” to some other name, assuming the legislation preserved all of the rights and obligations that are now associated with marriage?

4. Should Family Code section 308.5 — which provides that “[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” — be interpreted to prohibit only the recognition in California of same-sex marriages that are entered into in another state or country or does the provision also apply to and prohibit same-sex marriages entered into within California? Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the federal Constitution (U.S. Const., art. IV, §§ 1, 2, cl.1), could California recognize same-sex marriages that are entered into within California but deny such recognition to same-sex marriages that are entered into in another state? Do these federal constitutional provisions affect how Family Code section 308.5 should be interpreted?

The LA Times has more here.

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