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Court: Calif. need not defend Prop 8

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Same-sex marriage opponents say they will appeal a court ruling that California officials need not defend a constitutional amendment banning the practice.

A state appeals court Thursday declined to order Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to defend Proposition 8, approved by voters in 2008, amending the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

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The appeals court decision came in a lawsuit filed Monday, seeking to require state officials to appeal a federal court ruling that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution.

The legal challenge was filed by the Pacific Justice Institute on behalf of a Los Angeles-area clergyman, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

Kevin Snider, an attorney for the conservative legal organization, said the institute would immediately appeal Thursday's ruling to the state Supreme Court.

"When the people peacefully enact a constitutional provision and the attorney general refuses to give them meaningful review in the federal judiciary, then you have a veto by the executive branch," Snider said. "That is a constitutional crisis, usurping the power of the people."

In issuing a preliminary injunction Aug. 4, U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker found Proposition 8 "both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently issued an order agreeing to an expedited review of the ruling and scheduled a hearing for the week of Dec. 6, at which plaintiffs and defendants in the case are to present arguments on whether supporters of Proposition 8 have legal standing to appeal Walker's ruling.

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