Court Upholds Prop 8; State Continues To Recognize 18,000 Marriages

For Immediate Release

Marriage Equality Advocates
Contact: 

Vaishalee Raja
Communications Director
Equality California
Phone: 323.661.2071 x203
Mobile: 916.284.9187
vaishalee@eqca.org

Jason Pérez Howe
Public Information Officer
Lambda Legal
213.382.7600 x247 Mobile: 415.595.9245
jhowe@lambdalegal.org

Calla Devlin
Communications Dir.
NCLR
415.392.6257 x324
Mobile: 415.205.2420
cdevlin@nclrights.org

Rebecca Farmer
Media Relations Director
ACLU of N. California
415.621.2493 x374
Mobile: 415.269.6275
rfarmer@aclunc.org

Court Upholds Prop 8; State Continues To Recognize 18,000 Marriages

Advocacy Groups Vow to Return to Polls to Restore Marriage for Same-sex Couples

WASHINGTON - Today, in a 6 to 1 decision, the California Supreme Court upheld
Proposition 8, the ballot measure that eliminated the right of same sex
couples to marry.  In the ruling authored by Chief Justice Ronald
George, the Court stated "We emphasize only that among the various
constitutional protections recognized in the Marriage Cases as
available to same-sex couples, it is only the designation of marriage -
albeit significant - that has been removed by this initiative measure."
At the same time, the court unanimously ruled that the more than 18,000
marriages that took place between June 16 and November 4, 2008 continue
to be fully valid and recognized by the state of California. The
decision reaffirmed the Court's prior holding that sexual orientation
is subject to the highest level of protection under the California
Constitution.

In a strongly worded dissent,
Justice Carlos Moreno stated, "The rule the majority crafts today not
only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry that
this court recognized in the Marriage Cases, it places at
risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities. It
weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of
fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the
majority."

"Today's decision is a terrible blow
to same-sex couples who share the same hopes and dreams for their
families as other Californians," said Shannon Minter, Legal Director
for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who argued the case before
the California Supreme Court in March. "But our path ahead is now
clear. We will go back to the ballot box and we will win." 

The
National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU
represent Equality California, whose members include many same-sex
couples who married between June 16 and November 4, 2008, and six
same-sex couples. David C. Codell and Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP are also counsel on the case.   

At
a press conference this morning, all of the groups vowed to return to
the polls to restore the right to marry for same-sex couples. 

Elizabeth
Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, said,
"Same-sex couples yearn for the same dignity and respect that others
enjoy. The current situation in California is fundamentally
unfair, and it is deeply disappointing that the Court let this
injustice stand. But we are committed to restoring equality at the
ballot box." 

The National Center for
Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU filed the legal challenge on
November 5, after Proposition 8 was approved by just 52 percent of the
voters on Election Day.

An unprecedented 43 friend-of-the-court briefs, representing hundreds of religious organizations, civil rights groups, and labor unions, and numerous California municipal governments, bar associations, and leading legal scholars, were filed in the case, urging the Court to strike down the initiative.

"Public
opinion is moving in the direction of fairness and equality, and it is
only a matter of time until the freedom to marry will again be secure
for all Californians," said Jennifer C. Pizer, Marriage Project
Director for Lambda Legal. "Achieving equality always requires
struggle, but over time people come to accept that equal treatment and
equal protection of the laws is the best way to protect the rights of
all."

"By upholding Prop. 8, the Court has moved
our state backward and has put all Californians at risk of losing
fundamental rights at each and every election. Our Constitution must
ensure that all Californians are treated equally by our government,"
said Geoff Kors, Executive Director of Equality California.  "Despite
this injustice, we are prepared to return to the ballot box together
with our allies to restore the freedom to marry.  As more and more
states across the nation allow same-sex couples to marry, and as we
continue our efforts to win the hearts and minds of Californians
through real conversations in homes, in neighborhoods, online and on
the air, we are confident that same-sex couples will soon enjoy the
honor, dignity and protections that only marriage provides." 

The case is Strauss et al. v. Horton et al. (#S168047). For more information, go to: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/prop8.htm

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/overturn8

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
is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy
organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for
all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians. www.eqca.org

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