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Proposition 8 backers petition Supreme Court to block gay marriages in California

A federal appeals court cleared the way for same-sex marriages to begin in California. Opponents of gay marriage are crying foul, however. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports.

The legal team behind Proposition 8, California’s gay marriage ban, on Saturday filed an emergency motion asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block a flurry of weddings that began weeks before many thought possible because of a surprising federal appeals court ruling.

Lawyers with the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom claim in a petition that 9th Circuit Court of Appeals acted too early and and unfairly when it let same-sex marriage resume in California on Friday.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Austin Nimocks wrote that the Supreme Court's consideration of the case is not over because his clients still have 22 days to ask the justices to reconsider their decision, saying that Proposition 8's backers did not have legal authority to defend the ban.

The filing took place as hundreds of same-sex couples were lined up to get marriage licenses in San Francisco – where it was Gay Pride Weekend -- and other cities around the state.

Click here to read the emergency motion filed Saturday 

“Today's petition asks the Supreme Court to find that the Ninth Circuit had no jurisdiction to order same-sex marriages on Friday since the case had not yet come back down from the nation's highest court,” the attorneys wrote in a statement.

“We see this as illegitimate and lawless,” John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, told NBC News. “The 9th circuit had no jurisdiction to lift its stay.”

But  John Davidson, the legal director at Lambda Legal, which supports same-sex marriage, disagreed.

“I think the decisions of this week give us huge momentum,” Davidson told NBC News. “I’m very excited by how this is going to help in the legal battles but as well help in public opinion.”

On Friday afternoon, the two couples who challenged Proposition 8 were married after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court dissolved its stay blocking same-sex marriage in the state.

Friday, State Attorney General Kamala Harris declared Sandra Stier, 50, and Kris Perry, 48, "spouse and spouse" shortly before 5 p.m. (8 p.m. ET) at San Francisco City Hall. About 90 minutes later in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa married the other couple, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, on his last day in office.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals lifted a stay two days after the Supreme Court declined to rule on Proposition 8, thereby upholding a lower court's decision overturning the ban. The appeals court had blocked enforcement of that ruling pending the Supreme Court decision.

The Supreme Court also struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law that barred recognition of same-sex marriages.
Supreme Court rulings generally don't take effect for 25 days.

But Harris had called on the 9th Circuit to lift its stay as soon as possible Wednesday after Brown told the state's 58 counties to prepare for same-sex marriages.

Brown issued an order Friday afternoon making that official, declaring that "marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples immediately."

NBC News' Pete Williams and Alex Johnson contributed to this report.

Related: Prop 8 challengers wed in California after stay is lifted




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