Judge: Prop 8 Campaign Must Release Campaign Data

October 2, 2009

by Lisa Leff | San Francisco Examiner

The sponsors of California’s same-sex marriage ban must hand over some internal campaign records to lawyers seeking to overturn the voter-enacted initiative, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Thursday.

Denying a request to shield the information, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker said the Protect Marriage campaign had failed to show that providing private e-mails, memos and reports would inhibit the political activities of gay marriage opponents or subject them to unbridled harassment.

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Carlos Moreno, California High Court Justice, Is Raising His Profile

September 28, 2009

By Maura Dolan | Los Angeles Times

For most of his eight years on the California Supreme Court, the low-key and affable Carlos R. Moreno largely blended in with the six other justices, building a reliably middle-of-the-road record.

Then came Proposition 8, the initiative that reinstated a ban on same-sex-marriage. In May, Moreno cast the court’s only vote to overturn it.

Now, with the court’s term concluding last month, the jurist chosen because of his moderate views is getting a second appraisal from legal analysts, who say his unexpected boldness may signal a growing independence. His lonely stance has raised his profile and encouraged speculation that he may be stepping into a more visible role.

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Gay Pride and Prejudice

August 31, 2009

Los Angeles Times editorial

The issue before a federal judge in January will be same-sex marriage in California and whether the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, with its guarantees of equal protection and due process of law, prohibits Proposition 8 and other bans on the right to marry. As a constitutional case, it will involve its share of arguments about meeting legal tests for various levels of judicial scrutiny and whether homosexuals constitute a “discrete” group. Dry stuff indeed, and yet the lawsuit against Proposition 8 also threatens to be an emotionally wrenching case about the nature of homosexuality, just as the proposition itself was one of the most rancorous and divisive issues to face California voters in recent years.

Is sexual orientation inborn or a choice? Can it be changed? If so, should it be changed? Do gay and lesbian partners make good parents? As good as straight parents? Do homosexuals contribute as much to society as heterosexuals? Would their marriages harm the unions of heterosexual couples and the institution of marriage? As the case unfolds, it could pose those and other questions, presenting an opportunity to debate seemingly every prejudicial canard about gays and lesbians. And what’s especially dishearteningis that it is the plaintiffs — those seeking to end the state’s ban on same-sex marriage — who may force the debate for the purpose of dismissing those tired biases and strengthening their constitutional argument.

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Pushing the Envelope

April 15, 2009

OutNow Attends the Prop 8 Oral Arguments and Talks with
Our Courtroom Knights in Shining Armor

by Ric Giardina | OutNow

On March 5th, OutNow had a seat to view the Prop 8 oral arguments in the room reserved by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), near the California Supreme Court Building in San Francisco.

Over the last several weeks OutNow has talked with several of the attorneys who argued the case against Prop 8 as well as a few constitutional law experts to see what could be gleaned from what they thought while waiting for the Court’s decision.

read more (pdf)

California: Get on the Train!

April 13, 2009

Promo video for Day of Decision

When the CA Supreme court issues its ruling on the validation of Proposition 8 which eliminated the right of same sex couples to marry, it will either reject the proposition or affirm it and let it stand. On that DAY OF DECISION, come out to your local rally and either celebrate its rejection or protest its affirmation. No matter the decision, be with us – your civil rights matter, and the world needs to hear what you have to say.

Video: Sean Chapin

or click here to view.

Iowa, Vermont Gay Marriages Spark Debate in California

April 9, 2009

by Evelyn Nieves | AP/Time

Both sides of the gay marriage ban approved by California voters are debating how Iowa and Vermont’s recent moves to allow same-sex unions will affect their state’s running legal battle.

Gay marriage supporters are particularly interested in the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling, which they hope will sway the California Supreme Court to overturn the ballot measure voters passed with 52 percent of the vote in November.

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights Hails Vermont Marriage Victory

April 7, 2009

A statement from NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter:

04.07.09 —The Vermont legislature today overrode a veto by the governor and passed a bill to eliminate the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, thereby making Vermont the first state to do so prior to a court decision requiring full marriage equality.

A statement from Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“We are thrilled that the Vermont Legislature has taken decisive action to end discrimination against same-sex couples in marriage. Following on the heels of a unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court in the Iowa marriage case last week, today’s news from Vermont is yet another indication that Proposition 8 is out of step with our nation’s movement toward equality. If the California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8, California will be an outlier in the ongoing history of equality that is now exemplified by Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts, as well as many nations around the world. Fortunately, the California Constitution protects against the stripping of equal rights from minority groups. We are hopeful that the California Supreme Court will enforce that constitutional limit and hold that Proposition 8 is invalid, as the California Legislature, the Governor, hundreds of civil rights groups, bar associations, religious leaders and organizations, women’s organizations, and leading constitutional scholars have urged to the Court to do.”

The California Supreme Court is expected to rule on the validity of Proposition 8, which altered the California Constitution to eliminate the right to marry for same-sex couples, by June 3, 2009. For more information about NCLR’s Proposition 8 legal challenge, visit www.nclrights.org.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights Hails Iowa Marriage Victory

April 3, 2009

A Statement from NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter

04.03.09—”Today, in a unanimous decision, the Iowa Supreme Court held that the Iowa statute barring same-sex couples from marriage violated the equal protection guarantee of the Iowa Constitution. Lambda Legal represents the plaintiffs in the case. The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed an amicus brief in support of the couples.”

“We hope the California Supreme Court will uphold the essential principle of equality regardless of political controversy, just as the Iowa Supreme Court has done. The eyes of California and the world are now on the California Supreme Court, which must determine whether equal protection means equal, and whether Californians will continue to share that equality in the freedom to marry.”

“The California Supreme Court is expected to rule on the validity of Proposition 8, which altered the California Constitution to eliminate the right to marry for same-sex couples, by June 3, 2009. For more information about NCLR’s Proposition 8 legal challenge, visit www.nclrights.org.

read the unanimous decision (pdf)

read NCLR’s amicus brief (pdf)

Will the California Supreme Court Strike Down Prop 8, or “Willy-Nilly Disregard” Its Duty?

March 31, 2009

by Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, and author of Why Marriage Matters

Posted March 30, 2009 | 11:27 AM (EST) on The Huffington Post

If the March 5 oral argument before the California Supreme Court was any guide (which oral argument isn’t always), Chief Justice Ronald George may be on the verge of making a terrible, heartbreaking mistake.

The Court is due to rule soon on a set of challenges to Proposition 8, the November ballot-measure that stripped the freedom to marry away from committed same-sex couples. The challenges are supported by preeminent African-American, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific civil rights organizations; cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles; teachers and child-welfare professionals; religious leaders; businesses and labor unions; and advocates for same-sex couples and their families. All of them have asked the Court to uphold the bedrock principle of American constitutional government that a simple majority may not selectively vote away a fundamental right from a minority targeted for invidious, suspect reasons.

Most who saw the oral argument perceived Chief Justice George and Justice Joyce Kennard as straining to justify their apparently likely votes to uphold Prop 8. Their barrage of hostile questions and comments suggested that the civil rights advocates were asking the Court to, in Justice Kennard’s words, “willy-nilly disregard the will of the people.” But in fact the Constitution — itself the “ultimate expression of the people’s will,” as Chief Justice George recalled in 2008 — spells out two separate procedures for change: one for ordinary “amendments,” the other for more significant “revisions” such as Prop 8. Revisions, the Constitution says, require a more deliberate, careful process including review and a greater-than-mere majority vote by the Legislature before a measure is placed on the ballot. The Prop 8 forces chose not to follow the rules, including the constitutional safeguard against willy-nilly votes mandated, yes, by the people themselves. Indeed, shortly before the argument, the Legislature passed a resolution urging the Court to strike down Prop 8 because the Prop 8 forces in their zeal deprived the Legislature of its constitutional responsibility to review the measure.

The Court has the duty to strike down Prop 8, a measure that, while it received a narrow majority, should not have been on the ballot in the first place. The Court should explain that the interests of all of us, even a temporarily disgruntled majority, are better served when the rules are upheld. The Court should remind the public that, as the U.S. Supreme Court has said, “There is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally.” That restraining principle is an essential pillar of equal protection. The very idea that the Court would permit a simple majority to even inadvertently discard such a defining element of the Constitution is distressing.

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Waiting for Reckoning Day

March 30, 2009

Kate’s Blog: Out for Justice

As we brace ourselves for another reckoning day—the California Supreme Court’s ruling in our Prop 8 legal challenge—I am appalled that our basic rights were put up for a popular vote, and fervently hopeful that the Court will do the right thing. In our democracy, respect for minority rights is as essential as the principle of majority rule. The California Constitution prohibits the use of a simple amendment process to change the basic ground rules of our government. Therefore, before the people of California can change our government to one in which minorities no longer have a secure entitlement to equal rights, they must use the more deliberative process required for constitutional revision. That is the essence of the argument we have presented to the Court. It is now up to the Court to decide whether it will become the first in the country to hold that majorities can strip minorities of fundamental rights.

read more from Kate’s Blog: Out for Justice


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