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Same-Sex Marriage In California Under Contention By San Diego County Clerk

Shoko Oda |
July 22, 2013 | 9:49 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

San Diego County Seal, Richard Johnston, California Apostille
San Diego County Seal, Richard Johnston, California Apostille
In spite of two hearings on the constitutionality of Prop 8 by the Supreme Court, people in support of the bill have continued trying to reverse the rulings. 

Although same-sex marriages have been taking place in California since the Supreme Court hearings on DOMA and Prop 8 last month, last Friday a San Diego County clerk filed to petition the California Supreme Court in hopes of ending all same-sex weddings. 

County clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg Jr., a Republican whose office issues marriage licenses in San Diego County, argued that the Court's ruling on Prop 8 is only applicable to the two couples that are specifically named in the case and the counties where the couples attempted to get married: Alameda and Los Angeles. 

Additionally, he argued that county clerks were not obligated by state officials to marry same-sex couples.

Dronenburg's appeal follows another petition filed on July 12 by two Prop 8 proponent organizations: Alliance Defending Freedom and Protectmarriage.com. The groups appealed for same-sex marriage to be stopped in California, also reasoning that the court order to permit same-sex marriages did not apply statewide. 

This request was denied the next day by the California Supreme Court.

Despite California's reputation as a consistently blue state, different regions of the state remain conservative. Parts of San Diego County tend to lean on the more conservative side, especially when compared to Los Angeles, San Diego's northern counterpart.

According to a study conducted by The Bay Area Center for Voting Research in early 2000s, San Diego ranked 119 in Conservative Rankings out of 237 cities studied-- Los Angeles came in 200.

"I guess San Diego might get a reputation for being more conservative than LA because of its large aging population, especially retirees," commented Caitlin Sims, a junior at USC whose grandparents reside in San Diego. "In my experience, elderly people tend to hold more politically conservative views than younger generations." 

Chloe Warehall, a sophomore at USC who also hails from San Diego, agrees that the city is more conservative compared to Los Angeles, but she believes that the regions are more greatly divided over economic issues. 

"I'd say that [San Diego] is more economically conservative than socially conservative," said Warehall. "San Diego has a lot of old money, but there's also quite a bit of new money, resulting in economical conservatism." 

Another study conducted prior to the 2012 presidential election by the Public Policy Institute of California found that California's reputation as a liberal state stems mainly from the Northern Bay Area, where many identify themselves as loyal liberals in both social and fiscal issues. In contrast, Southern counties—including San Diego and even Los Angeles—appear to be more mixed in terms of political leanings.

California Regional Political Climate, Public Policy Institute of California
California Regional Political Climate, Public Policy Institute of California

Despite Dronenburg's efforts, legal specialists Doug NeJaime and David Cruz do not believe that his case will lead to any substantial changes. 

"The San Diego county clerk's petition piggybacks on the petition filed last week by the Prop. 8 proponents," commented Doug NeJaime, a Law Professor at UC Irvine. "It doesn't really raise new substantive arguments." 

"To the extent that this suit is an attempt to re-litigate the federal trial court order against enforcing Prop 8, it...belongs in federal court, not state court," added David Cruz, a USC Law Professor. 

Cruz believes that the case does not appear necessary to be first heard in the California Supreme Court, rather than the superior court, where litigations would normally start. 

Despite the county clerk's suit, Warehall believes that San Diego residents are not vehemently opposed to same sex marriage. 

"From what I've seen, San Diego residents aren't necessarily opposed to same sex marriage," commented Warehall. "I think there are a lot of people acting as advocates for same sex marriage, and only a few still holding onto their conservative values."  

It appears that Prop 8 supporters will have to strengthen their attempts if they truly hope to reverse the ruling of the Supreme Court. The high personal and ideological stakes of the issue make the battle over same-sex marriage in California a debate to keep watching as it continues to ensue in the coming months. 

Reach Staff Reporter Shoko Oda here



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