Case challenging California anti-same-sex measure continues next month in state Supreme Court
The California Supreme Court announced Thursday that the next stage in the ongoing legal challenge of Proposition 8, which made same-sex marriage illegal through a statewide referendum vote in 2008, is set for Sept. 6.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — where the Prop 8 case is on appeal — asked the state’s high court to determine, whether under California law, marriage amendment proponents “have the authority to assert the State’s interest,” since California’s governor and attorney general refuse to do so.
On Aug. 4, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled (PDF) that Prop 8 was unconstitutional.
From U.S. District Chief Vaughn R. Walker’s August 2010 decision:
Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause, as excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest. One example of a legitimate state interest in not issuing marriage licenses to a particular group might be a scarcity of marriage licenses or county officials to issue them. But marriage licenses in California are not a limited commodity, and the existence of 18,000 same-sex married couples in California shows that the state has the resources to allow both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to wed.
Prop 8 proponents appealed the court’s decision.
Those defending Proposition 8, the “defendant-intervenors” in the case, include ProtectMarriage.com; Yes on 8, a Project of California Renewal; and “official proponents” Dennis Hollingsworth, Gail J. Knight, Martin F. Gutierrez, Hakshing William Tam and Mark A. Jansson. They are being represented in part by the Alliance Defense Fund.
Plaintiffs in the case are two same-sex couples: Kristin M. Perry and Sandra B. Stier, who live in Berkeley, Calif., and raise four children together; and Paul T. Katami and Jeffrey J. Zarrillo, who live in Burbank. The “plaintiff-intervenors” are the city and county of San Francisco.
The chairman of ProtectMarriage.com’s executive committee, Ron Prentice (also CEO of the California Family Council, a Focus on the Family affiliate), was quoted in CitizenLink expressing hope that the case will reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The record of this case is packed with disregard for legal precedent, and the issues of states’ rights, the people’s will, and, of course, the definition of marriage, are extremely significant,” Prentice said. “The coalition of national organizations like Focus on the Family, and state organizations like all of the family policy councils, will not be deterred on the issue of marriage, because it involves God’s heart, society’s future and a child’s protection.”
One of the groups representing the couples in this case, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), has started a movement asking California marriage-equality supporters to petition the court to release video footage of the public trial that led up to last August’s decision, which they claim the Prop 8 proponents are trying to prevent.
In the meantime, AFER has released videos of its own, on the lives of the couples in the lawsuit.
Watch Perry & Stier’s story:
Kris and Sandy from American Foundation for Equal Ri on Vimeo.
Watch Katami & Zarrillo’s story:
Paul and Jeff from American Foundation for Equal Ri on Vimeo.