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WASHINGTON – The high-powered legal team that successfully argued that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the appeal, a decision would once again allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in the Golden State.
Attorneys for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending the landmark federal appeals court ruling in Perry v. Brown (now Hollingsworth v. Perry) that found Prop 8 unconstitutional.
Prop 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry. AFER’s brief calls marriage equality “the defining civil rights issue of our time.”
On Feb. 7, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco concluded that Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The proponents of Prop 8 recently asked the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit’s judgment. Plaintiffs’ brief filed today responds to Proponents’ request.
“[T]he Ninth Circuit found that eliminating the ability of gay and lesbian couples to have their relationships designated as marriages — and relegating them to separate and unequal domestic partnerships — achieves nothing except the marginalization of gay and lesbian individuals and their relationships, and therefore cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny,” Plaintiffs’ attorneys, led by distinguished co-counsel Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, said in today’s brief.
“That holding is fully consistent with this Court’s jurisprudence, which has long held that marginalizing a group of citizens for its own sake violates the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Plaintiffs’ brief underscores the clear unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 and the unjustifiable harm that it imposes:
“Proposition 8 is antithetical to the ‘principles of equality’ on which this ‘Nation … prides itself.’ It creates a permanent ‘underclass’ of hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians, who are denied the right to marry available to all other Californians simply because a majority of voters deems gay and lesbian relationships inferior[.] … With the full authority of the State behind it, Proposition 8 sends a clear and powerful message to gay men and lesbians: Your relationships are not recognized on the same footing or entitled to the same dignity or respect as those of heterosexuals.”
Because the Ninth Circuit’s decision “reflects a correct and straightforward application of settled Supreme Court precedent,” Plaintiffs urge the Supreme Court to deny review and put an end, once and for all, to the discrimination that Proposition 8 continues to inflict on gay and lesbian Californians.
AFER is the sole sponsor of Perry v. Brown, the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.
“Two federal courts and a majority of Americans recognize that laws like Proposition 8 are unfair, unlawful, and contrary to basic American values,” said Adam Umhoefer, AFER executive director. “It is time, indeed past time, that our nation live up to its founding promise of liberty and equality for all by ensuring that gay and lesbian couples are afforded the same fundamental freedom to marry guaranteed to every American by our Constitution.”
On July 30, 2012, the proponents of Proposition 8 asked the Supreme Court to review the February 2012 decision of the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed the historic August 2010 judgment of the Federal District Court that struck down Proposition 8. The Ninth Circuit held:
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort.’”
On June 5, 2012, the full Ninth Circuit denied Proponents’ request for an eleven-judge panel to rehear the case, known as rehearing en banc.
Proponents’ request for Supreme Court review, known as a petition for a writ of certiorari, is only granted upon an affirmative vote of four Justices. The Court will consider Proponents’ petition for certiorari and Plaintiffs’ response at a private conference in late September or early October.
READ PLAINTIFFS’ BRIEF IN OPPOSITION HERE.
READ PROPONENTS’ PETITION FOR CERTIORARI HERE.
READ THE NINTH CIRCUIT’S ORDER DENYING REHEARING EN BANC HERE.
READ THE NINTH CIRCUIT’S DECISION HERE.
READ THE FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT’S DECISION HERE.