San Diego county clerk asks court to halt same-sex marriages

The clerk argues that the District Court's ruling only applies to the named couples in the Prop 8 case

Published July 21, 2013 9:19PM (EDT)

The San Diego County clerk has asked the state Supreme Court to block California from issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples across the state, arguing that the District Court's ruling on Proposition 8 only applies to the two couples specifically named in the case, as well as officials in Alameda and Los Angeles Counties, where the couples attempted to marry.

County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg Jr., who is in charge of issuing marriage licenses for the county, asked for an injunction against same-sex marriage licenses until the court considers who whether or not the District Court's ruling applies to gay and lesbian couples across the board.

The Associated Press reports:

Mr. Dronenburg is arguing that the United States Supreme Court decision applies only to the two couples named in the original federal lawsuit and to the clerks in Alameda and Los Angeles Counties, where the couples applied for marriage licenses.

Mr. Dronenburg also argues that county clerks are not bound by orders from the governor, the state attorney general or other state officials to marry gay couples.

The District Court had ruled that Proposition 8, the state ban on same-sex marriages, was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case was appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, but the high court held in June that the supporters of the law did not have standing to appeal, thus upholding the District Court's decision. However, the scope of District Court decisions is typically limited to the parties named in the case. California Gov. Jerry Brown, though, quick instructed state officials to begin issuing licenses.

Supporters of Prop 8 last week asked the state Supreme Court to similarly halt same-sex marriages, citing the same reasons as Dronenburg. The court refused the request. SCOTUSBlog explains:

For now, all of this is playing out in the state supreme court.  Aside from refusing a stay request last Monday in the Hollingsworth proceeding, it has given no further indication that it will actually rule on the merits.  Before it would do so, it would first have to rule that the new challenges have  been properly filed in the state’s highest court, rather than in a lower state court or in the federal court that struck down “Proposition 8.”

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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California Gay Marriage Proposition 8 Same-sex Marriage San Diego