December 13, 2012
By Jennifer Bihm
“The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to consider marriage equality takes our nation one step closer to realizing the American ideal of equal protection under the law for all people,” said Attorney General Kamala Harris, part of a growing number of elected officials and community leaders lauding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to review a California gay marriage case and the validity of Proposition 8.
“For justice to prevail, Proposition 8 must be invalidated so that gay and lesbian families are finally treated with equality and dignity.”
Proposition 8, a descendent of California’s 2000 Proposition 22, was the “California Marriage Protection Act,” later titled “Eliminates Rights of Same Sex Couples to Marry” on the November 2008 ballot. The prop added to the “Declaration of Rights” portion of the state’s constitution, providing that “only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The ban on gay marriage went into effect the day after Prop 8 passed and was in direct opposition to the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling that it was unconstitutional.
The next year, same sex couple Kristin Perry and Sandra Steir, applied for a marriage license in Alameda County, which was denied, as was one for Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo. The couples filed a suit against state officials including then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown. Brown agreed that the ruling violated the 14th Amendment to the United State’s Constitution and did not participate in the defense; neither did Schwarzenegger although he did agree that the courts should hear the case.
ProtectMarriage.com organizer Dennis Hollingsworth a staunch supporter of Prop 8, was allowed to step in as a defendant. Now governor, Brown continues his refusal to defend the lawsuit as does Harris who promised as much during her campaign for attorney general. Other elected officials are also weighing in, looking forward, they said, to the ban being overturned.
“I sincerely hope that the Supreme Court finds Proposition 8 violates the promise of equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution,” Senator Barbara Boxer said in a statement released shortly after the December 7 decision.
“I believe support for marriage equality keeps growing stronger.”
“Today’s announcement that the Supreme Court will take up Hollingsworth v. Perry and the challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act is a reminder that the pathway to justice is long and difficult,” said Speaker John A. Perez, who also released a statement last week.
“I am very confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of our community in Hollingsworth v. Perry, as it is now known, and affirm that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. But until that outcome is secured, our community must continue to fight for justice on every front, from working to secure the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to addressing the issues of homelessness among LGBT Youth.”
LGBT activist Jasmyne Cannick agrees. While attitudes about same-sex marriage are changing—with about 48 percent of Americans in favor of it, the community should stay “focused on the real issues facing all of us—gay, lesbian, and heterosexual--jobs, affordable housing, education, and access to healthcare,” she said.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the Supreme Court’s decision an ‘opportunity.’
“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court faces the opportunity to rectify the injustices caused by denying gay and lesbian Americans the right to follow their hearts and marry the person they love,” he said.
“I am confident that the highest court in our land will follow the wisdom of the 9th Circuit and grant all couples — regardless of sexual orientation — the freedom to marry.”
“We understand that our nation has to be a nation of laws and that there is one class of people, and the law has to apply equally to all of us regardless of race, gender, class or sexual orientation,” Black AIDS Institute Executive Director Phil Wilson.
“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will affirm that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.”
The Court is expected to make the final decision in June 2013.