Cities like to know ahead of time when a major protest is going to occur--that's not revolutionary. However, what is quite out of the ordinary is when one asks a court for advance notice prior to it's issuing a ruling on a controversial issue.
That's precisely what happened when a representative from the San Francisco City Attorney's office sent a letter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the case of Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, aka the Prop 8 trial.
Oral arguments in the case concluded on December 8th and a decision could conceivably be handed down by the three-judge panel any day now.
In a letter sent to the court's clerk on Wednesday, Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese M. Stewart wrote:
I write on behalf of Plaintiff-Intervenor and Appellant, City and County of San Francisco, to echo the City of West Hollywood's request that the Court provide the parties advance notice when the decision on this appeal is forthcoming. In several prior instances when decisions have been issued relating to the marriage rights of same-sex couples, there have been large gatherings, including protesters, at the courthouses and in the Civic Center area of San Francisco. Those gatherings have involved expressions of intense emotion and sometimes heated debates between people who strongly disagree. In any instance where crowds of protesters gather, and particularly where the issue is as emotional and contested as this one, it is helpful for the San Francisco Police Department to be aware of the gathering in advance to plan for and deploy an adequate number of officers to the areas where protests are likely to occur. We would therefore be grateful if the Court could provide advance notice of its intention to issue its decision in this case.
Stewart's boss, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, has long been one of the key figures in the debate over gay marriage in California. A long time advocate for marriage equality, much of the energy for San Francisco's initial legalization of gay marriage came from his office.
Additionally, Herrera made history when he (along with government lawyers in Los Angeles and Santa Clara County) filed their first government challenge to laws prohibiting homosexual couples from getting married.
Check out this video from the American Foundation of Equal Rights on the December 8th Prop 8 hearing before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals: