SAN FRANCISCO -- If the U.S. Supreme Court ends the legal challenge to California's ban on same-sex marriage, San Francisco city officials want to be prepared for a deluge of attention and couples ready to tie the knot.

In a letter sent to a federal appeals court on Tuesday, the San Francisco city attorney's office asked for 24 hours notice in the event court action puts an end to Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on gay marriages in California.

San Francisco officials predict a crush of same-sex marriage requests if the U.S. Supreme Court decides as soon as next week to let stand an appeals court ruling declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional. As a result, they would like advance notice of when such marriages would actually be legal, both to provide security and also the ability to process marriage licenses at the epicenter of the gay marriage movement.

"Allowing for an orderly process likewise will provide same-sex couples and their families and friends with the dignity they deserve as they celebrate an important milestone in their lives," wrote Therese Stewart, chief deputy city attorney.

The Supreme Court on Friday meets in a closed-door conference to consider whether to review the challenge to Proposition 8, as well as numerous challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage benefits.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Proposition 8 earlier this year. If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, a decision that may be revealed next week, the 9th Circuit ruling stands, legalizing same-sex marriage in California.


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In order for that to happen, the Supreme Court would direct the 9th Circuit to trigger one last legal maneuver, a formality that ends the case. San Francisco officials asked the 9th Circuit to give them 24 hours notice of when that would happen.

The Supreme Court also could decide to hear the case, which would delay a ruling until next June, or could even put the case on hold while it considers the federal law.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz.