Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gay Marriage in California - Law Suit Challenging Prop. 8

Two gay couples in California filed suit May, 2009 in federal court in the Northern District of California challenging Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on gay marriage in that state. Originally, the California court had allowed the proceedings to be viewed over YouTube. But the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked that ruling, at the request of supporters of Proposition 8, who intervened in the law suit. You can get the full text of the documents of the case, including hearing transcripts at the site of www.EqualRightsFoundation.org, which seems to have been formed as a 501(c)(3) corporation specially to challenge Prop 8. The website includes not only plaintiffs' and defendant's legal filings, but also links to news and media.

There have been several statements by gay rights activists concerned that this is a dangerous time to file such a suit, which will almost certainly go to the U.S. Supreme Court eventually. The case is styled Perry v. Schwarzenegger. S.F. Gate.com offers one such article

Co-sponsored by nine gay and civil liberties organizations - including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal - the memo said "even the strongest gay-rights decision the court has issued - the Lawrence v. Texas case striking down laws against intimacy for gay couples - explicitly commented that it was not saying anything about formal recognition of same-sex relationships."

"There is much we can and should do together to strengthen our hand before we put a federal marriage case before the justices," the memo said.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights has links with PDF documents for the amicus briefs they have filed in the case and nice summaries of the issues and history of the case, and other helpful links to articles and such. Lambda Legal offers a link with the amicus brief they authored with ACLU and NCLR.

Family Research Council offers its amicus brief here. Scribd (Michael Ginsborg (hi!)) thoughtfully posts "selected" documents from the Perry case here, which today include a number of commentaries. I am not certain I have located all the amici in this sweep, but I have tried. There seems to be very divided opinion on the wisdom of this law suit and its timing. My heart goes out to the folks in California who have had same sex marriage handed to them in San Francisco and then torn away through Proposition 8. I only hope that this law suit does not do lasting damage to the cause of gay marriage in California and elsewhere!

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