Upon today’s news that the Ninth Circuit has reaffirmed California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional, a flurry of responses from LGBT rights groups have come. Here’s a sampling.
NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that found that Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment that stripped the freedom to marry away from gay and lesbian couples in California, violates the U.S. Constitution.
Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, issued the following statement in response to the ruling:
“Today’s powerful court ruling striking down the infamous Prop 8 affirms basic American values and helps tear down a discriminatory barrier to marriage that benefits no one while making it harder for people to take care of their loved ones. The Ninth Circuit rightly held that a state simply may not take a group of people and shove them outside the law, least of all when it comes to something as important as the commitment and security of marriage. We salute the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought this challenge to Prop 8.
“This monumental appellate decision restores California to the growing list of states and countries that have ended exclusion from marriage, and will further accelerate the surging nationwide majority for marriage. As this and other important challenges to marriage discrimination move through the courts around the country, Freedom to Marry calls on all Americans to join us in ensuring that together we make as strong a case in the court of public opinion as our legal advocates are making in the courts of law. By growing the majority for marriage, winning more states, and tackling federal discrimination – Freedom to Marry’s ‘Roadmap to Victory’ – we maximize our chances of winning when one case or another finally reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Mayors for the Freedom to Marry
LOS ANGELES – Today, Mayors Michael Bloomberg of New York City, Annise Parker of Houston, Jerry Sanders of San Diego, and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, who are all Chairs of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, the bipartisan group of more than 130 mayors from across the nation who have pledged their support for ending marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian couples, released the following statement:
“As Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, we know how important marriage is to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our nation. When committed couples are able to pledge their love to one another and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage, our communities flourish and our cities are more competitive. Today’s decision by the 9th Circuit reaffirms that the American Dream is possible for everyone and brings us one step closer to ending marriage discrimination once and for all. We look forward to a day when all of our citizens will be able to share fairly and equally in the freedom to marry.”
Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, added:
“America’s mayors understand why marriage matters – to loving and committed couples, to their families, to communities navigating tough economic times. Today’s important court ruling affirms basic American values, and helps tear down a discriminatory barrier to marriage that benefits no one and make it harder for people to take care of their loved ones.”
Los Angeles, CA, February 7, 2012 – GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today applauded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision affirming the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8.
“Today’s historic decision reflects the growing support for marriage equality among a majority of Americans who believe all couples should have the same opportunity to take care of and be responsible for each other,” said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson. “Though the road to securing full equality for every American remains long, we are deeply encouraged by today’s ruling.”
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – today praised the historic decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming the August 2010 conclusion of U.S. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown) that the amendment to the California Constitution barring marriage for same-sex couples, adopted in November 2008 as Proposition 8, violates the U.S. Constitution. In a 2-1 decision authored by Judge Reinhardt, the court agreed that Proposition 8′s only purpose in denying gay and lesbian Californians the freedom to marry was anti-gay animus, something the Constitution does not permit.
“Today’s decision affirms what we all know to be true – our Constitution protects the basic civil rights of all Americans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Proposition 8 does nothing to strengthen or protect any marriage. Instead, it singles out thousands of loving California families for different treatment, simply because they are gay and lesbian couples. We applaud the Ninth Circuit for recognizing that our Constitution cannot tolerate such egregious discrimination.”
“We thank the courageous plaintiff couples, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies for their years of work leading to today’s decision. This is not the end of the road, for this case or for the larger struggle for marriage equality. We must all continue our work – in courthouses and statehouses, in church pews and living rooms – until equality is reality for LGBT people and our families everywhere.”
In response to a 2008 decision by the California Supreme Court ending marriage discrimination in the state, anti-equality forces succeeded in placing a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Despite over 18,000 same-sex couples having married, California voters adopted the amendment, known as Proposition 8. After the California Supreme Court determined in 2009 that the adoption of Prop 8 did not itself violate the California Constitution, two plaintiff couples — Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo – filed suit against the State of California in federal court, represented by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies and supported by the American Foundation for Equal Rights. The proponents of Prop 8 intervened in the case to defend the constitutionality of the amendment. Judge Walker held a historic trial in January, in which the plaintiffs presented substantial testimony and evidence to show that Prop 8′s only purpose is to discriminate against same-sex couples. His historic decision in August 2010 was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The proponents of Prop 8 are now likely to appeal this decision, either to be considered by a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit (referred to as an en banc rehearing) or for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Washington, DC – (Feb. 7, 2012) – Family Equality Council, the national organization that connects, supports and represents the one million families with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), today issued a statement following the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the ruling in Perry V. Brown – the federal court case to overturn California’s Proposition 8. The Federal Appeals Court ruled that California’s 2008 amendment banning same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional.
“Today’s decision heartens and gives hope to the 15,698 loving couples in California who are raising more than 30,000 children,” said Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler.
“They, like all Americans, understand that while love makes a family, there is no denying that marriage strengthens it,” said Chrisler. “These parents have raised their children to love their country, support their friends and treat their neighbors with respect. Now they only ask for the fundamental American freedom to demonstrate their love and commitment to their family through marriage. We join them in looking forward to the day when we can win the freedom to marry for them and all Americans.”
This weekend, Family Equality Council will celebrate this step forward on the journey toward the freedom to marry and family equality for all when it honors Chad Griffin and other LGBT family advocates at the 2012 Los Angeles Awards Dinner. ( www.familyequality.org/
Griffin is Co-founder and Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights – the group behind the effort to overturn California’s Proposition 8.
Los Angeles – After three years of Prop 8 weaving its way through the federal and California court system, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld Judge Walker’s August 2010 ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Marriage equality proponents throughout the state, including Courage Campaign members who worked valiantly to overturn Prop 8, cheered the historic decision.
“The 9th Circuit did what it must: it ruled that Judge Walker is competent, not somehow diminished for being gay and it ruled that the Constitution of the United States indeed provides equal protection and due process to all Americans, not just some Americans,” said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the Courage Campaign, a progressive, grassroots online organization with more than 750,000 members around the country. “Having live-blogged every piece of this trial, especially in Judge Walker’s courtroom two years ago, it became patently clear that the fringe opponents of equality would never prevail. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the dynamic duo of attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies and their colleagues at the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) who took to heart that real people are hurt by Prop 8 and its evil cousins across the nation. The time for waiting has ended.”
The Courage Campaign has played a leading role in informing and organizing around the entire Prop 8 trial. The organization collected nearly 140,000 signatures in support of televising the trial — the first time the U.S. Supreme Court ever cited such an online effort in an opinion. Upon learning that the historic trial would not be televised, Jacobs live-blogged daily from the courthouse and documented every important motion and court ruling on Prop 8 Tour Tracker (www.Prop8TrialTracker.com), a project of the Courage Campaign Institute. Over the course of almost three years, the widely-read blog has logged in over four million views and 150,000 comments. It is also the #1 Google result for “Prop 8 trial.”
Courage Campaign’s Testimony: Equality on Trial project staged re-enactments of the trial, including many from the general public. It was designed to educate the public on what happened in the courtroom, more vital now since the tapes have been forever sealed from public view. Two video re-enactments were used as evidence in federal court by the legal team from AFER. The first video was staged with Academy Award-winner Marisa Tomei (playing Kristin Perry, the plaintiff in Perry v. Brown) and actor Josh Lucas.
When the California Supreme Court decided it would take six months to offer its advice to the 9th Circuit, thus adding nearly a year to the process, the Courage Campaign asked members to submit their stories on what the delay meant to them and their families. Three hundred stories came in, including one from Ed Watson and Derence Kernek in Palm Springs, a couple for over 40 years. Ed had Alzheimer’s and his health was quickly deteriorating. A video of their story prompted a front page Los Angeles Times story. Ironically, Ed died on the eve of the last Prop 8 hearing in the 9th Circuit.
“The decision made by the 9th Circuit, to be honest, is a bittersweet one for me,” said Mr. Kernek, who still lives in Palm Springs. “I know that my partner of 41 years, Ed, would’ve been thrilled to have heard the news. He missed it by less than two months because he passed away in December. Even as he took his last dying breaths, Ed spoke of wanting to marry me. Even though he did not get his last wish, I am heartened to know that other gay couples who love each other will be able to take sacred vows and fully commit their lives to one another. And that makes it a glorious day for gay people in California.”
(Washington, D.C.) Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis released the following statement regarding today’s ruling on Proposition 8 by the Ninth Circuit:
“SLDN welcomes today’s important ruling by the Ninth Circuit affirming the lower court decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional; indeed, fairness and equality have carried the day. This victory strengthens our case on behalf of married gay and lesbian service members and veterans as we seek to gain equal recognition, support, and benefits for them and their families. This is an historic win for supporters of full equality in the military and in our country,” said Sarvis.
Transgender Law Center Celebrates Appeals Court Ruling Striking Down
Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the Perry
v. Brown case holding that California’s Proposition 8, which
restricted marriage in the state to different-sex couples, is
unconstitutional. The appeals court also squarely rejected the
argument made by Prop 8’s sponsors that the trial court judge who
issued the initial decision finding Prop 8 unconstitutional should
have been required to recuse himself from the case because he is gay
and in a long-term relationship.
Statement by Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis:
“We’re thrilled that today the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed that under our
constitution, all loving couples must be allowed to marry, regardless
of the gender of either partner. The state should not be in the
business of policing who can marry based on gender. I’m optimistic
that full equality for all our families is on the horizon.”
NOM Condemns Ninth Circuit Ruling Finding Prop 8 Unconstitutional, Imperiling the Marriage Laws of 43 states
Group will support efforts to take the issue to the US Supreme Court
WASHINGTON, D.C. — “As sweeping and wrong-headed as this decision is, it nonetheless was as predictable as the outcome of a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition game,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “We have anticipated this outcome since the moment San Francisco Judge Vaughn Walker’s first hearing in the case. Now we have the field cleared to take this issue to the US Supreme Court, where we have every confidence we will prevail.”
San Francisco federal court judge Vaughn Walker ruled in 2010 that Proposition 8 violates the 14th amendment of the US Constitution. If allowed to stand, the ruling could invalidate the marriage laws of 43 states that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The case is widely expected to go to the US Supreme Court for resolution.
In their 2-1 split decision, the Ninth Circuit opinion [PDF] written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, held that:
• The proponents of Proposition 8 have the legal standing to appeal the lower court’s ruling, as suggested by an earlier ruling of the California Supreme Court;
• Judge Vaughn Walker did not have a duty to disclose that he was in a long-term committed homosexual relationship throughout the time he was hearing and deciding the case;
• The US Supreme Court ruling in Baker v Nelson, which found there is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage, does not preclude this challenge to Proposition 8;
• Laws enacted that particularly impact same-sex couples are subject to “heightened scrutiny” legal analysis;
• Under a heightened scrutiny analysis, Proposition 8 violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and is thus unconstitutional.
“Never before has a federal appeals court – or any federal court for that matter – found a right to gay marriage under the US Constitution,” said constitutional scholar John Eastman, who is chairman of NOM. “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most overturned circuit in the country, and Judge Stephen Reinhardt, the author of today’s absurd ruling is the most overturned federal judge in America. Today’s ruling is a perfect setup for this case to be taken by the US Supreme Court, where I am confident it will be reversed. This issue is the Roe v Wade of the current generation, and I sincerely doubt the Court has the stomach for preempting the policy judgments of the states on such a contentious matter, knowing the lingering harm it caused by that ruling.”
Eastman is the founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Claremont Institute and is a constitutional law professor and former Dean at Chapman University School of Law. A former US Supreme Court Clerk, Eastman has participated in over 60 cases before the US Supreme Court.
Image of San Francisco march today, by Will Kane via Twitter.
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