Friday, November 21, 2008

Prop 8 Goes Back To The CA Courts

The battle for equal rights rages on in California.

Tomorrow (Nov 22) large numbers of people will assemble in Sacramento on the steps of the California State Capitol Building at 2:00 pm demanding justice for the rights that were stripped away by the passage of Prop 8.

California Supreme Court Agrees to Review Prop 8 Legal Challenges

Three couples. Three minutes. They show us the human cost of denying gay and lesbian couples the fundamental right to marry. Watch the video, Right to Marry: Yes We Should!

In an order issued Wednesday, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear the legal challenges to Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that would end marriage for same-sex couples in California. It passed narrowly on November 4th.

On November 5th, the ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of Proposition 8 in the California Supreme Court on behalf of six couples and Equality California. The City of San Francisco, joined by the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, and Santa Clara County, filed a similar challenge, as did a private attorney in Los Angeles.

The lawsuits allege that, on its face, Proposition 8 is an improper revision rather than an amendment of the California Constitution because, in its very title -- which was "Eliminates the right to marry for same-sex couples" -- the initiative eliminated an existing right only for a targeted minority.

If permitted to stand, Proposition 8 would be the first time an initiative has successfully been used to change the California Constitution to take away an existing right only for a particular group. Such a change would defeat the very purpose of a constitution and fundamentally alter the role of the courts in protecting minority rights. According to the California Constitution, such a serious revision of the state constitution cannot be enacted through a simple majority vote but must first be approved by two-thirds of the legislature.

Since the three lawsuits submitted on November 5th, three other lawsuits challenging Proposition 8 have been filed including petitions filed by the California Council of Churches, leading African American, Latino and Asian American groups, and two prominent California women's rights organizations.

In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court held that barring same-sex couples from marriage violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and violates the fundamental right to marry. Proposition 8 would completely eliminate the right to marry only for same-sex couples. No other initiative has ever successfully changed the California Constitution to take away a right only from a targeted minority group.

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