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California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and a new trio of opponents to gay marriages say they’ll ask the state Supreme Court this week to enter the debate over same-sex marriages before lower courts have decided the issue. But their petitions may be to no avail — some appellate lawyers say the Supreme Court rarely agrees to such requests. Lockyer could have stuck with defending state laws on marriage in superior court, but he believes the issue will be resolved faster if his office goes straight to the state’s highest court, said Lockyer spokeswoman Hallye Jordan. “The attorney general feels it’s very important to get this resolved as quickly as possible, for the people of California who voted for Proposition 22 as well as the gay and lesbian couples who have been provided these [licenses],” Jordan said. The city began issuing same-sex marriage licenses Feb. 12 at the direction of Mayor Gavin Newsom, putting San Francisco in the center of the national debate over whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry. In the past two weeks, opponents to those marriages filed two challenges in San Francisco Superior Court, Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund v. San Francisco, 503943, and Thomasson v. Newsom, 428794. Judge Ronald Quidachay consolidated the two cases Friday. On Monday, Lockyer said he’d file a petition Friday asking the state Supreme Court to take on the issue. But lawyers in his office are still discussing what remedies to seek, and it’s not clear whether they’ll request an immediate injunction, he said. Lawyers from the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund also said Tuesday it plans to file a petition for an original writ this morning seeking an immediate stay from the state Supreme Court. The Alliance Defense Fund is representing a new set of plaintiffs — three San Francisco residents — in the petition. The fund is also representing different plaintiffs in Proposition 22. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other Republicans have recently complained that the attorney general wasn’t taking enough action to ensure San Francisco follows state law on marriage. Some Republican activists even announced plans to begin a petition drive to qualify a recall election of Lockyer for the November ballot, The Associated Press reported. Jon Davidson, senior counsel at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is representing same-sex couples in superior court, speculates there are political considerations behind Lockyer’s move. “Just because the governor is jumping up and down … the attorney general who’s running for governor has to show that he’s tough, too.” But Lockyer denied Tuesday that his petition was prompted by the criticism, and called the recall-related announcement a “publicity stunt.” “This is what we’ve been working on for two weeks,” Lockyer said at a press conference Tuesday. “It’s easy for a politician to have an opinion in 10 seconds,” but lawyers take time to analyze the issues and confer with their clients, he said. Lockyer’s plans to ask the state Supreme Court to jump in sooner rather than later received mixed reactions from lawyers on both sides of the superior court cases. A lawyer for Lambda said the issues should be framed and developed in lower courts first. “There should be a record developed, there should be full consideration for the legal issues at the superior court, and then it’s appropriate for the appellate courts to consider the issues,” said Davidson, senior counsel for Lambda. “There’s a reason why we don’t immediately jump to the last decision-maker.” Mathew Staver, a plaintiffs lawyer in the Thomasson case in superior court, said he’d prefer to give both sides a couple more weeks to fully develop their briefs, get a full trial court record, and then see the case leapfrog over the court of appeal to be heard next by the state Supreme Court. “There’s a need to develop the record at the trial court level, because the issue is of such great importance,” Staver said. And Benjamin Bull, one of the attorneys filing the other writ petition with the state Supreme Court this week, said the only way he’d be completely satisfied with Lockyer’s petition is if the attorney general asks the state Supreme Court to put an immediate stop to the marriages in San Francisco. Lockyer pointed out that two superior court judges and a panel from the 1st District Court of Appeal have denied requests for an immediate stop to the marriages. “We want to be sensitive to the fact that those courts have issued at least some tentative rulings,” he said. Also on Tuesday, President George Bush called definitively for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman, saying that states and local governments including San Francisco’s have been aggressively trying to redefine marriage in recent months. “Unless action is taken, we can expect more arbitrary court decisions, more litigation, more defiance of the law by local officials,” Bush said in a statement. Mayor Newsom responded Tuesday morning, accusing Bush of promising some of his supporters that he’d back such an amendment long before San Francisco began marrying gay and lesbian couples earlier this month. “This is a ploy to appease the right wing of his party and change the subject from his dismal record on job creation and foreign policy,” said a statement from the mayor’s office.

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