While today’s ruling from the California Supreme Court is disappointing, the good news is that the Perry case is now back in federal court, where we expect a quick victory. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that today’s ruling addresses only a procedural legal question. The key issue in this case is whether the U.S. Constitution permits a state electorate to treat one group of people unequally to everyone else by depriving them of what the state’s high court has held to be a fundamental right. A federal court has already ruled that the federal Constitution prohibits the voters from doing that and that Prop. 8 therefore is unconstitutional. We look forward to seeing that decision upheld so that same-sex couples in California may once again enjoy the freedom to marry.I also could NOT agree more with Rick Jacobs from the Courage Campaign who wrote (also in an email:)
In addition, today’s ruling does not settle the federal law question of whether Prop 8 proponents have standing in federal court. It remains up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to decide whether or not the U.S. Constitution allows initiative proponents to defend a challenge to the measure the proponents supported when elected state officials don’t. Regardless of today’s decision, we at Lambda Legal believe that the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that initiative proponents don’t have that right.
In the end, the proponents of Prop. 8 are just people with an opinion. That does not make them entitled to stand in for the government when they don’t agree with its decisions. We believe the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit should rule that Prop. 8′s proponents lack standing under federal law and, if the judges who originally heard the appeal rule otherwise, that the full Ninth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court should rule that initiative proponents are not entitled to take over the government’s role.
Even if the federal courts find that the proponents have the right to appeal, we continue to believe that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional and that the appellate courts will agree. As Judge Walker ruled, there is not even a legitimate government interest in denying same-sex couples access to the title and status of marriage when the state provides them all of the rights, benefits, and duties afforded different-sex couples through marriage.
Prop. 8′s only purpose was to send the message that the same-sex couples don’t deserve to be seen as equal to different-sex couples and that message is one the federal Constitution prohibits. That is especially so when, as here, the state supreme court has ruled that denial of access to marriage violated the state’s guarantee of equal protection.
What Prop. 8 did was amend the California Constitution’s equal protection clause to create a gay exception and provide that all people in the state have equal rights except for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. That too is something the U.S. Constitution does not allow.
We therefore remain very optimistic that, one way or another, Prop. 8 will eventually be overturned.
"Allowing any random, unelected, unaccountable website like ProtectMarriage.com to represent the entire state of California in court will turn California from a democracy to a mob-ocracy. We can’t have it." -- Rick Jacobs, Courage CampaignAnd here's my own statement ... for what it's worth:
While disappointed in today's ruling giving legal standing to an unelected, un-appointed mob committed to taking away fundamental rights from LGBT Californians, more important than today's decision that they have the right to appeal is the decision they're appealing. And that decision is Judge Walker's ruling that taking fundamental rights away from equally protected American citizens is fundamentally unconstitutional.
The Prop 8 challenge isn't a "gay" issue -- it's a fundamentally American issue.
We are a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all -- not just some -- are created equal. Equal protection isn't equal protection unless it equally protects all Americans. And it is fundamentally unconstitutional to put the fundamental rights of American citizens up to a "majority rules" vote. Judge Walker was right. It's time to put Prop 8 in the dustbin of history along with DADT and become the nation we say we are -- to make liberty and justice for all a reality and not just a pledge.
And as a priest and pastor let me be perfectly clear: The issue before the courts isn't whether God equally blesses same-sex marriage -- the issue is whether the Constitution equally protects them. And the answer -- in alignment with the traditional American values of democracy -- not "mob-ocracy" -- must be a resounding YES!