The San Diego City Council fell one vote short of joining other local governments in asking the state Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage.

As a result of the failed vote, San Diego will not write a “friend of the court” brief to be used in the high court’s consideration of the lawsuits filed by several same-sex couples who had their marriages voided in 2004. Their marriage licenses were administered by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom before they were struck down in state court.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera urged the council on Tuesday to send a letter in support of the lawsuits, claiming the issue was more about the constitutional rights of the couples than political symbolism.

“You will hear that marriage has always been between a man and a woman, but what has always been true does not translate into what the constitution means,” Herrera said.

James Hartline, a conservative Christian activist, told the council that local voters already made up their mind on the issue. He pointed out that 62 percent of San Diego County voters supported banning same-sex marriage during the statewide Proposition 22 campaign in 2000.

“There is no mandate to change what voters supported in Prop. 22,” Hartline said.

The debate ended in a 4-4 tie. Council President Scott Peters and Council members Toni Atkins, Jim Madaffer and Ben Hueso supported the proposal. Council members Kevin Faulconer, Tony Young, Brian Maienschein and Donna Frye voted against it.

The measure featured two notable votes: the liberal Frye voting against and the conservative Madaffer voting for filing the brief.

Frye tried to postpone the vote in an attempt to give members of the public a better opportunity to weigh in, claiming the six days prior to the meeting was not long enough time for residents to consider “one of the most controversial issues this council can participate in.” Her motion to postpone the vote failed.

Madaffer said he saw same-sex marriage as the latest civil rights struggle, harking back to the Romans’ sacrifice of Christians for entertainment to slavery as examples of past injustices.

“We’ve seen for many years the discrimination of the minority by the majority,” Madaffer said.


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