For Immediate Release
CCR Statement on Prop 8 and SCOTUS Decision on Questioning Defendants Without Lawyers Present
WASHINGTON - In response to both the California Supreme Court ruling supporting
Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative, and the United
States Supreme Court ruling overturning the ban on police initiating
questioning without the defendant's lawyer present, the Center for
Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement:
May 26, 2009 saw two important court decisions that each set back the
cause of human rights and civil liberties by decades. The Center for
Constitutional Rights expresses its profound disappointment in
Tuesday's ruling by the California State Supreme Court on Proposition
8, the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative. While we are pleased that
the court ruled in favor of the 18,000 gay marriages that occurred
before the ballot initiative passed, the fact that the court upheld
Prop 8 is a travesty of justice that invalidates the inherit dignity
and human rights deserved by any loving family unit.
On the same day, there was another decision, this time by the United
States Supreme Court, in which the high court struck a blow to
defendants' rights and made it far easier for prosecutors to
interrogate suspects who have not received proper legal counsel. In a
5-4 ruling, the Court overturned the 1986 ruling in Michigan v. Jackson
that forbid police from initiating questioning of a defendant who
already has a lawyer or who has requested one unless the attorney is
present. This ruling is significant to all Americans, and, in some
ways, is particularly relevant to the LGBTQ community.
We understand that the gay marriage debate has been used by
conservatives to polarize the country and achieve political power, and
that marriage equality and LGBT organizations and civil liberties
groups had to fight back against their rhetoric. However, CCR
recognizes that the marriage issue is not limited to just gay and
lesbian couples, but that it also affects people who are bisexual,
transgendered, and queer, and that their stories must also be shared
and covered by the media, and considered by the law.
We also recognize that once justice prevails and the gay marriage
debate is over, there will remain a need to recognize and provide
fundamental human rights, namely social and economic rights such as
health care, Social Security, welfare assistance, and housing granted
by the institution of marriage, to other non-nuclear family structures
- families that are equally deserving of inherent dignity and
recognition, such as single parent households or Senior citizens
living together and serving as one another's caregivers, without regard
to blood ties, kinship or conjugal status. The progressive community
must work to ensure the separation of church and state in all matters,
including the regulation of individuals' sexual identities, activities,
expressions, and gender choices.
Within the current framework, it is middle and upper class gay and
lesbian couples that will reap the most from the benefits extended by
marriage. We must not rest at those future victories, but strive to
ensure that those most marginalized by society have the same rights as
The modern LGBTQ movement was started by poor and working class drag
queens, transgendered people, and people of color who fought back
against police raids at Stonewall and elsewhere. CCR recognizes that
tst targeted and harassed by the police.
It is these same communities that have now lost an added protection
when they are brought into police custody. The Supreme Court's ruling
on suspects' and defendants' rights and the further erosion of our
civil liberties is most likely to be felt by those on the margins of
our society. So, as we mourn the decision in California and renew our
efforts to overthrow Prop 8, we must keep in mind that it is not only
important to fight for marriage rights for all, but to remember our
duty to ensure social, economic and legal justice for all.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.