Other States Intervene in California Marriage Case:
Over the weekend, the NYT reported on an interesting development: Attorneys General from other states are asking the California Supreme Court to stay implementation of its decision legalizing gay marriage.
In a letter to the court's chief justice, Ronald George, the attorneys general — all Republicans — asked that the marriages be put off until after the November election, when California voters are expected to vote on a measure that would ban same-sex marriages.
The attorneys general said that allowing same-sex marriages now could unnecessarily open the door to legal challenges from gay residents of other states who get married in California. Upon returning to their home states, the newlyweds could demand equality in everything from tax-filing status to testimonial privileges in civil suits, the attorneys general said.
"Absent a stay of the mandate in this case, that number will certainly be very large indeed," Mark L. Shurtleff, the Utah attorney general, wrote on behalf of the group in a letter delivered on Thursday and released publicly on Friday. "And unnecessarily so if a majority of California's voters favor in November the proposed ballot measure."
Though I doubt this sort of intervention in another state's legal proceedings is unprecedented -- state legal proceedings can often affect the legal interests of other states -- it is certainly rare, particularly on an issue like this.
The state AGs' intervention underscores that the California decision could have national consequences. Assuming the decision is allowed to take effect, it won't be long before there are legal challenges to other states' refusal to recognize gay marriages performed in California, and then only a matter of time before someone makes a federal case of it.