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Plan of attack

Marriage | Pro-marriage groups look for ways to stall California decision

Issue: "Ethiopia's new flower," May 31, 2008

Several organizations supportive of traditional marriage have just weeks to seek a stay of the California Supreme Court's May 15 decision that changed the state's definition of marriage to include homosexual couples. The Supreme Court ruling strikes down Proposition 22, the California Defense of Marriage Act, which voters passed into law with a 61 percent majority in 2000. Chief Justice Ronald C. George, author of the majority opinion, declared that same-sex marriage is a right implicitly guaranteed within the state constitution.

Groups opposing the decision will seek a stay until November when Californians will again vote on the controversial issue-this time on whether to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. But the likelihood of the court granting such remedy appears remote. "It will be a difficult battle," said Jennifer Monk, legal counsel of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a chief defender of Proposition 22. "The ruling was so all-encompassing and very specific in what the court wanted."

The new definition of marriage is slated to take effect on June 14. Even if Californians elect to restore the traditional definition this fall, all same-sex marriages completed within that five-month window would stand. Monk told WORLD that adding a provision to void such marriages to the proposed constitutional amendment would only diminish its chance of passing and might prove legally impossible anyway.

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But the Supreme Court's success in legalizing gay marriage for several months could undermine any chance for lasting change in the definition of marriage if it sparks greater voter turnout among supporters of marriage amendment. "We're still very optimistic that it will pass," Monk said. "If anything, this decision should remind people that they need to get out and vote and weigh in on the subject, because the court has overruled their previous vote."

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