California Supreme Court Takes Step Back from Equality

For Immediate Release

Brad Luna | Phone: 202/216.1514
Trevor Thomas | Phone: 202/216.1547

California Supreme Court Takes Step Back from Equality

Nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group responds to court ruling

Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the
California Supreme Court’s split 6-1decision today ruling that
Proposition 8, the narrowly approved measure which eliminated the right
of same-sex couples to marry, is valid. As a result of the court’s decision in Strauss v. Horton,
California becomes the first state in the nation to strip away marriage
rights for same-sex couples.  As same-sex couples and allies from
across the country react to the news, HRC is releasing an online,
YouTube video set to the song “I Won’t Back Down”:
ruling is a huge blow to Americans everywhere who care about equality. 
The court has allowed a bare majority of voters to write same-sex
couples out of basic constitutional protections,”
said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “This ruling is
painful, but it represents a temporary setback.  There will be a
groundswell to restore marriage equality in our nation's largest state,
and HRC will not give up until marriage equality is restored in
significant effort already underway is a strategic partnership between
HRC and California Faith for Equality (CFE), a statewide group
established to educate, support and mobilize faith communities on LGBT
equality.  The partnership joins CFE and its 6,000 supporting faith
leaders with both HRC's Religion and Faith Program expertise as well as
HRC's National Field Department to broaden, diversify and deepen
religious support for marriage equality in California.
ruling couldn't be more out of step with what's happening across the
country,” said Solmonese, pointing to recent marriage victories in
Iowa, Vermont and Maine. “We have no choice but to return this basic
question of fairness for the estimated 1 million LGBT Californians back
to the voters.”
we are relieved that the 18,000 couples who married before the Prop 8
vote will still have valid marriages, it does not in any way remove the
sting of this ruling,” added Solmonese.
the past decade, public acceptance of marriage equality for same-sex
couples has changed dramatically.  For the first time, more Americans
say they support marriage for same-sex couples (49%) than oppose it
(46%), according to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll released in
late April.  
states plus Washington, D.C. have laws providing at least some form of
state-level relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
 Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (as of September 1, 2009),
and Maine (as of mid-September 2009, pending possible repeal effort)
recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law.  Five
states—California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington
(as of July 26, 2009, pending possible repeal effort)—plus Washington,
D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits
and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or
domestic partnerships.
provides same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits. New York
recognizes marriages by same-sex couples validly entered into outside
of New York.  Legislatures in New Hampshire and New York are
considering marriage legislation that would permit same-sex couples to
marry in those states, and the D.C. Council has passed legislation that
would recognize marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in
other jurisdictions (that legislation is going through a Congressional
review period).
For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, please visit:
For a summary of the history of the case and for a comprehensive listing of HRC’s work in California on Proposition 8, please
A breakdown of the ruling and interpretation by the HRC legal team will be available shortly on



The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of over 750,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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