Opponents of the Supreme Court of California’s decision to legalise gay marriage have collected enough signatures of opposition to force the state to put the issue to voters directly.
Last month, the Supreme Court’s decision that all Californian couples have a “basic civil right” to marry “without regard to their sexual orientation” made it just the second state after Massachusetts to legalise gay marriage.
Campaigners colected 694,354 signatures, enough for the issue to be put to voters on the same day as the US presidential and Congress elections. They wish the state’s constitution to define marriage as being “between a man and a woman “
During the 2006 midterm and 2004 presidential elections, the issue was also put to voters.
Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah all say that they need time to consider the status of their residents who marry in California. With the exception of Florida and New Hampshire, they all have a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
“We reasonably believe an inevitable result of such ‘marriage tourism’ will be a steep increase in litigation of the recognition issue in our courts,” said Utah Attorney General Mark L Shurtleff in the application on behalf of the ten states.
New York Governor David Paterson earlier in the week said that his state would seek to recognise the marriages of citizens that are held in California.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown submitted a response saying: “The Court has declared the law governing the right of same-sex couples to marry, and the Attorney General undertakes to give effect to that declaration with no less vigour than he previously sought to give effect to the statutes in
A recent poll found that the majority of Californians, 51%, back gay marriage.
43% oppose same-sex marriages in the state.
Only 40% said they would back changing the state constitution to exclude gay and lesbian couples from marriage. 54% oppose a change, as does California’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.