Prop. 8 Case Gets High Court Date

California's highest court says it will take up a legal challenge to the state's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban next month.

The state Supreme Court has scheduled a March 5 hearing date for oral arguments in a series of lawsuits seeking to overturn Proposition 8.  Gay couples, several local governments and Attorney General Jerry Brown maintain the ballot initiative, which passed with 52 percent of the vote, is unconstitutional.

If it opts to uphold the measure, the court has said it will also decide whether the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed when gay marriage was legal in California are valid.

After hearing arguments, the court's seven justices have 90 days in which to issue a ruling.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights told the L.A. Times it was unusual for the court to hold a hearing so soon after obtaining written arguments. The court received final briefs late last month.  Forty-three groups representing civil rights activists, legal scholars, labor unions, bar associations, state legislators and religious organizations have filed written arguments asking that Proposition 8 be overturned, the report said.

Campaign disclosure reports made public Monday showed ddonors gave more than $83 million to support or oppose the ballot initiative.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated more than $180,000 in in-kind contributions to the campaign for Proposition 8.  The contributions included tens of thousands of dollars for expenses such as airline tickets, hotels, restaurants and rental cars for top church officials, including L. Whitney Clayton, a church elder, the L.A. Times reported.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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