The Commercial Appeal

Gay marriage foes ask court to intervene

- By Lisa Leff Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Less than 24 hours after California started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, lawyers for the sponsors of the state’s gay marriage ban filed an emergency motion Saturday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the weddings being performed in San Francisco.

Attorneys with the Arizonabas­ed Alliance Defending Freedom claim in the petition that the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals acted prematurel­y and unfairly on Friday when it allowed gay marriage to resume by lifting a hold that had been placed on same-sex unions.

“The Ninth Circuit’s June 28, 2013 Order purporting to dissolve the stay...is the latest in a long line of judicial irregulari­ties that have unfairly thwarted Petitioner­s’ defense of California’s marriage amendment,” the paperwork states. “Failing to correct the appellate court’s actions threatens to undermine the public’s confidence in its legal system.”

The motion was filed as dozens of couples filled San Fran- cisco City Hall on Saturday to obtain marriage licenses. On Friday, 81 same-sex couples received marriage licenses.

Although a few clerk’s offices around the state stayed open late on Friday, San Francisco, which is holding its annual gay pride celebratio­n this weekend, was the only jurisdicti­on to hold weekend hours so that same-sex couples could take advantage of their newly restored right, Clerk Karen Hong said.

A sign posted on the door of the office where a long line of couples waited to fill out applicatio­ns listed the price for a li- cense, a ceremony or both above the words “Equality(equals) Priceless.”

“We really wanted to make this happen,” Hong said, adding that her whole staff and a group of volunteers came into work without having to be asked. “It’s spontaneou­s, which is great in its own way.”

The timing couldn’t have been better for California National Guard Capt. Michael Potoczniak, 38, and his partner of 10 years, Todd Saunders, 47, of El Cerrito. Potoczniak, who joined the Guard after the military’s ban on openly gay service was repealed almost two years ago, was scheduled to fly out Sunday night for basic training in Texas.

“I woke up this morning, shook him awake and said, ‘Let’s go,”’ said Potoczniak, who chose to get married in his Army uniform. “It’s something that people need to see because everyone is so used to uniforms at military weddings.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Propositio­n 8’s backers lacked standing to defend the 2008 law because California’s governor and attorney general have declined to defend the ban.

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