California Supreme Court Grants Review in Prop 8 Legal Challenges

For Immediate Release

Equality California (EQCA)
Contact: 

Calla Devlin, Communications Director NCLR 415.392.6257 x324 cdevlin@nclrights.org
Jason Howe, Public Information Officer Lambda Legal 213.382.7600 x247  jhowe@lambdalegal.org
Rebecca Farmer Communications Dept. ACLU of N. California 415.621.2493 x439 rfarmer@aclunc.org
Ali Bay, Communications Manager Equality California 916.554.7683 ali@eqca.org

California Supreme Court Grants Review in Prop 8 Legal Challenges

Court to Determine Constitutionality of Prop 8

SAN FRANCISCO - Today the California
Supreme Court granted review in the legal challenges to Proposition 8,
which passed by a narrow margin of 52 percent on November 4. In an
order issued today, the Court agreed to hear the case and set an
expedited briefing schedule. The Court also denied an immediate stay.     

On
November 5, 2008, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American
Civil Liberties Union, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the
validity of Proposition 8 in the California Supreme Court on behalf of
six couples and Equality California. The City of San Francisco, joined
by the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, and Santa Clara
County, filed a similar challenge, as did a private attorney in Los
Angeles.

The lawsuits allege that, on its
face, Proposition 8 is an improper revision rather than an amendment of
the California Constitution because, in its very title, which was
"Eliminates the right to marry for same-sex couples," the initiative
eliminated an existing right only for a targeted minority. If permitted
to stand, Proposition 8 would be the first time an initiative has
successfully been used to change the California Constitution to take
way an existing right only for a particular group. Such a change would
defeat the very purpose of a constitution and fundamentally alter the
role of the courts in protecting minority rights.   According
to the California Constitution, such a serious revision of our state
Constitution cannot be enacted through a simple majority vote, but must
first be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature.   

Since
the three lawsuits submitted on November 5, three other lawsuits
challenging Proposition 8 have been filed. In a petition filed on
November 14, 2008, leading African American, Latino, and Asian American
groups argued that Proposition 8 threatens the equal protection rights
of all Californians.

On November 17,
2008, the California Council of Churches and other religious leaders
and faith organizations representing millions of members statewide,
also filed a petition asserting that Proposition 8 poses a severe
threat to the guarantee of equal protection for all, and was not
enacted through the constitutionally required process for such a
dramatic change to the California Constitution. On the same day, prominent California women's rights organizations filed a petition asking
the Court to invalidate Proposition 8 because of its potentially
disastrous implications for women and other groups that face
discrimination.

In May of 2008, the
California Supreme Court held that barring same-sex couples from
marriage violates the equal protection clause of the California
Constitution and violates the fundamental right to marry. Proposition 8
would completely eliminate the right to marry only for same-sex
couples. No other initiative has ever successfully changed the
California Constitution to take away a right only from a targeted
minority group.    

Over the
past 100 years, the California Supreme Court has heard nine cases
challenging either legislative enactments or initiatives as invalid
revisions of the California Constitution. In three of those cases, the
Court invalidated those measures.    

For more information on this case, go to: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/prop8.htm

 

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.nclrights.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. www.lambdalegal.org

The American Civil Liberties Union is America's foremost advocate of individual rights. It fights discrimination and moves public opinion on LGBT rights through the courts, legislatures and public education. www.aclu.org

Equality California Founded in 1998, Equality California celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008, commemorating a decade of building a state of equality in California. EQCA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. www.eqca.org

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