Breaking: 9th Circuit States Prop 8 Unconstitutional
Updates: “Below the fold” are press releases & commentary from LGBT organizations, religious right/social conservative organizations, and two three Republican presidential candidates.
Photos from the American Foundation for Equal Rights Prop 8 press conference in LA today:
California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled. The judges upheld a lower court’s ruling.
… “Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable,” the opinion states, “it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”
From the Los Angeles Times
A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage, clearing the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage as early as next year.
The 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that limited marriage to one man and one woman, violated the U.S. Constitution. The architects of Prop. 8 have vowed to appeal.
The ruling was narrow and likely to be limited to California.
“Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California,” the court said.
The ruling upheld a decision by retired Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who struck down the ballot measure in 2010 after holding an unprecedented trial on the nature of sexual orientation and the history of marriage.
Post-decision press conference starting NOW (10:53 AM pacific):
From the Los Angeles Times‘s Prop. 8: Gay marriages won’t resume immediately in California:
Gay marriages will not immediately resume in California, despite a federal appeals court decision ruling unconstitutional the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex weddings.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals left in place a stay on the ruling, which had been issued by a lower federal court, to prevent the resumption of same-sex marriages as the case works its way through the appeals process.
ProtectMarriage, the group that sponsored Proposition 8, said it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California,” the court said.
Supporters of Proposition 8 blamed “Hollywood-orchestrated attacks” for the appeals court defeat.
[Press Releases/Reactions to the ruling below the fold.]
American Foundation For Equal Rights (AFER):
U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds Federal District Court Ruling That Proposition 8 is UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Ninth Circuit: “Proposition 8 serves no purpose … other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.”
*** Press Conference in Los Angeles at 10:30 a.m. PST ***
*** National Media Conference Call at 11:45 a.m. PST ***
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for access code.
*** Press Conference in San Francisco at 5:00 p.m. PST ***
*** Community Event at Los Angeles City Hall at 5:00 p.m. PST ***
READ THE DECISION HERE: www.afer.org/legal-filings/ninth-circuit-decision-on-prop-8
San Francisco, CA – Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling in Perry v. Brown upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. In an opinion authored by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, the Ninth Circuit concluded that Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Proposition 8 stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect in California, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort,” Judge Reinhardt wrote.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of the Perry case.
“Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, as the courts have repeatedly throughout our nation’s history, that singling out a class of citizens for discriminatory treatment is unfair, unlawful and violates basic American values,” said AFER Board President Chad Griffin. “Like many other Americans, our plaintiffs want nothing more than to marry the person they love. Committed, loving couples and their families should not be denied this most fundamental freedom.”
AFER will hold four events to discuss the significance and impact of today’s ruling:
1) A 10:30 a.m. PST press conference in Los Angeles at Vibiana, 214 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Speaking at the press conference will be plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson; AFER Board President Chad Griffin; plaintiffs Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo; and Dominick Zarrillo.
2) A national media conference call at 11:45 a.m. PST. RSVP to email@example.com to be provided with access code. Speaking on the call will be plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson and David Boies; AFER Board President Chad Griffin; plaintiffs Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo; and Dominick Zarrillo.
3) A 5:00 p.m. PST press conference in San Francisco at The Julia Morgan Ballroom, Merchants Exchange, 465 California St., San Francisco, CA 94104. Speaking at the press conference will be plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson; AFER Board President Chad Griffin; plaintiffs Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo; Dominick Zarrillo; and San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
4) A 5:00 p.m. PST community event at the Los Angeles City Hall Rotunda, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Supporting the community event are Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, AFER Founding Board Members Dustin Lance Black and Rob Reiner, California Faith for Equality, Courage Campaign, Equality California, Equal Roots Coalition, FAIR, Freedom to Marry, Jordan/Rustin Coalition, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, Latino Equality Alliance, Marriage Equality USA, National Center for Lesbian Rights and others.
Human Rights Campaign:
Federal Appeals Court Agrees: California’s Proposition 8 Is Unconstitutional
Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Discriminatory Amendment
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.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center:
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Applauds 9th Circuit Court’s Historic Decision
Upholding Ruling that Found Prop 8 Unconstitutional
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 7, 2012– Today a three-judge panel of the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Justice Vaughn Walker’s August 2010 ruling that found California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional, after finding that supporters of Prop 8 do have standing to defend the measure in court. The judges also ruled against supporters of Prop 8 who argued that Justice Walker should have recused himself from the trial because he is gay.
In response, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean issued the following statement:
“This is another historic ruling that moves our country closer to the day when every American will be able to marry the person they love, regardless of gender—and to have that important commitment recognized by the law of the land.
Having that commitment honored is no small thing.
In 2008, before Prop 8 passed, I was finally able to marry the woman with whom I have now shared 20 years of my life. As I stood before a small group of family and friends, Gina’s hand in mine, I pledged to take her as my lawfully wedded wife. As I vowed to love and to cherish, to honor and to comfort her, I was overcome by emotion.
Many other same-sex couples were finally able to wed that year, and I shared in their joy as well. But it was sometime later when I heard perhaps the most deeply moving wedding story of all—the story of Alice, a senior (now 76) who had turned to the Center for help.
Alice had been just as joyful about her wedding as I was, even though it was under very difficult circumstances.
Alice and Sylvia, who had spent 43 years building a life together, exchanged vows in the ICU of the hospital just weeks before Sylvia died. She had been under hospital care for one and a half years.
Not only was Alice devastated, but she faced a tremendous financial hardship because she could not collect the Social Security benefits of her wife. And in this great state of California, that is who Sylvia was, legally as well as emotionally: Alice’s wife. But in the eyes of the federal government, she was no one.
I wish that Alice and Sylvia could have married all those years ago when they first moved to California and decided they would spend their lives supporting one another. And that during her time of greatest grief, Alice had not faced the fear that she would become homeless because she couldn’t afford to stay in the apartment she shared with Sylvia.
And I wish my father could have walked me down the aisle. He so wanted us to be able to marry, but he died before the laws treated us fairly.
Of course, there are countless more who have missed the chance to celebrate their love by making this ultimate commitment to their partners. And countless more who hope with all their hearts that one day this will be possible for them.
I eagerly await the day when all our nation’s people will have the freedom to marry, to celebrate their love with friends and family, and to know that every state as well as the federal government will recognize these commitments equally.
The journey is far from over, since this ruling will be appealed, but today’s victory draws that day one important step closer.”
San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Community Center:
Today, Love is Victorious
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that Judge Vaughn Walker got it right when he found California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution. It’s a long-awaited and historic victory: LGBT Americans are again full and equal citizens of California!
But we cannot yet marry. Once again the decision was stayed while the opponents of equality again appeal to a higher court, again attempting to delay the day when we are fully free.
When they write the history of California’s struggle with the freedom to marry it will be difficult, if not impossible, to capture the hundreds of thousands trapped in an endless iteration of court battles and ballot propositions that at once assert, “No, you are not full citizens.” And then, “Yes, you are full citizens of this state and nation – free to love, commit your lives to each other, and to marry.” And then again, “No, we’ve decided you are again second-class citizens.” Back and forth, back and forth.
Odd to have your rights, dignity and worthiness endlessly debated. Odder still to have your fellow citizens vote on your basic rights with often nothing more to inform them than their fears, fantasies and biases about people they don’t know or understand. And the oddest thing of all may end up being that there never was any evidence that the committed love and marriage of gays and lesbians is anything more than joyous and human.
But today – we celebrate a day in that history when love is victorious and we are free.
History of Marriage Equality in California
California’s struggle for freedom and marriage equality spans almost 15 years and is among the strangest in the nation. It’s been a long road involving hundreds of thousands of Californians in more than a decade of struggle for fairness, freedom and equality.
In March 2000, Proposition 22 (the Knight initiative) was adopted by a vote of the people of California (61.4% to 38%), adding one sentence to the California Family Code explicitly defining the union of a man and a woman as the only valid form of marriage in the State of California. The California Supreme Court invalidated the results of Proposition 22 in 2008.
In 2004, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom permitted marriages without regard to gender in San Francisco. These marriages were continued for a month and were then banned, resulting in the lawsuits that would end with the California Supreme Court finding the same-sex marriage ban in California unconstitutional in May 2008.
In 2005, the California legislature became the first legislature in the nation to approve a marriage equality bill. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to sign it. The following year, the California legislature again passed a marriage equality bill. And again, Governor Schwarzenegger refused to sign it.
Four years ago, in a historic ruling in May 2008, Chief Justice Ron George and the California Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage and allowing only opposite-sex marriages was unconstitutional in the State of California. Three and a half years ago, angered by the coming court ruling, a group of Californians began collecting funds and signatures to place the issue of the fundamental right of marriage on the November 2008 ballot in order to nullify the Supreme Court ruling. This measure became Proposition 8.
Following the historic California Supreme Court ruling, marriage equality in California became legal in June 2008 and continued to be legal until November 2008, when Proposition 8 passed in California (52% to 48%). Proposition 8 again resulted in a marriage ban in California.
The Proposition 8 battle in California was the most expensive, divisive and brutal ballot initiative in California history, pitting family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors against each other. Anyone who lived through those five months can’t help but remember the vitriol. Endless television and radio commercials insisted that the institution of marriage, and indeed society itself, would crumble if marriage equality was the law of the land.
Following Proposition 8, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) filed suit in a United States District Court asserting that Proposition 8 violates both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. In January 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker began a trial, and after hours of testimony ruled that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. In August 2010 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to take the case and heard oral argument in December 2010. The result of those arguments was released in the 9th Circuit Court opinion today, February 7, 2012.
Freedom to Marry:
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.”
National Center for Lesbian Rights:
Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the August 2010 decision of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco striking down Proposition 8, the 2008 measure that stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry in California. The Court affirmed the ruling of former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker that Prop 8 discriminates against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court also rejected Prop 8 supporters’ offensive argument that Judge Walker should have refused to preside over the case because he is gay and in a relationship with a man.
The court ruled that Proposition 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution because it “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”
The supporters of Prop 8 have 15 days to ask the Ninth Circuit panel to reconsider its decision or to ask for reconsideration by a larger panel of judges on that court. Alternatively, they have 90 days to request that the Supreme Court of the United States review the case.
NCLR, Lambda Legal, ACLU of Northern California, and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders filed an amicus brief urging the court to affirm Judge Walker’s decision.
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:
“It is a unique and honored position to be an eyewitness to history. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling finding that Proposition 8 violates the Constitution of this nation marks the first time a federal appellate court has held that a law excluding same-sex couples from the right to marry runs counter to our highest ideals of equality and fairness. With today’s ruling we are a giant step closer to the day when the promise of our Constitution squares with the lived reality of LGBT people.”
We’ll also be providing you with in-depth legal analysis on Facebook, NCLRights.org, and our Out for Justice blog.
Transgender Law Center:
SAN FRANCISCO – 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.”
National Center For Transgender Equality (NCTE):
NCTE Statement on the 9th Circuit Court Ruling
Mara Keisling: “This is an important victory for transgender people.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, a 2008 California ballot measure banning marriage equality in the state, is unconstitutional. In response, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said:
“Transgender people, their partners and their families are too often caught in the middle of these kinds of laws. And today, the Ninth Circuit Court joined our community in recognizing Proposition 8 for what it is–a discriminatory attack on decency and common sense, motivated by prejudice and discrimination. Today’s ruling is about ensuring that our laws are clean of prejudice, and truly protects us all. Regardless of the make-up of our relationships, the ruling once again shows that justice and equality are advancing.”
We congratulate the plaintiffs, their counsel, and all Californians on this important victory.
ACLU Liberty Watch:
TODAY’S DECISION ON PROPOSITION 8: WHERE ARE THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES?
A federal court handed a decisive victory to equality today when it ruled that California’s ban on marriage between same-sex couples was unconstitutional. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, passed in 2008, violates the Constitution’s guarantee of due process and equal protection.
According to the ACLU Liberty Watch 2012 candidate report card on civil liberties, most of the candidates oppose freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
“Today, one of the highest courts in the United States led on equality and fairness for all Americans; it’s time for the presidential candidates to catch up,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU.
On a scale of zero to four “Lady Liberty” torches, here is where the candidates currently stand on equality:
Newt Gingrich – Zero torches for supporting a federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a constitutional marriage amendment and the conservative Family Leader’s “marriage pledge.”
Gary Johnson – Four torches for opposing DOMA and supporting marriage equality.
Barack Obama – Three torches for refusing to defend DOMA and opposing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, although he does not support marriage equality outright.
Ron Paul – One torch for opposing a constitutional marriage amendment but he supports DOMA.
Buddy Roemer – Two torches for supporting civil unions but he also supports DOMA.
Mitt Romney – Zero torches for opposing same-sex marriage and supporting a constitutional marriage amendment.
Rick Santorum – Zero torches for sponsoring a federal marriage amendment and voting in favor of DOMA.
Family Equality Council:
FAMILY EQUALITY COUNCIL STATEMENT ON NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION IN THE PERRY V. BROWN CASE
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/losangeles)
Statement from Rick Jacobs, Chair and Founder of the
Courage Campaign, on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision
“This is the Day We’ve Been Waiting For”
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.”
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN):
(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.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD):
U.S. DISTRICT COURT ISSUES DECISION IN SUPPORT OF MARRIAGE FOR ALL LOVING AND COMMITTED COUPLES
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.”
The Task Force:
Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey in response to today’s historic ruling:
“The court’s ruling affirms what millions of people all across the country already know — loving, committed same-sex couples and their families should be able to share in the celebration and responsibilities of marriage. People from every background and every circumstance get this; they understand because being able to marry the one you love and care for your family are shared values that strike at the very core of who we are as a people. Denying loving couples and their families something so fundamental is to deny our common humanity. Congratulations to the plaintiffs and their families. This is a great day for them, for all Californians, and for all Americans.”
Mitt Romney Campaign:
MITT ROMNEY: COURT DECISION ON PROPOSITION 8 “DOES NOT END THIS FIGHT”
Boston, MA – Mitt Romney made the following statement regarding the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional:
“Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage. This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices.”
Newt Gingrich (via tweet):
Court of Appeals overturning CA’s Prop 8 another example of an out of control judiciary. Let’s end judicial supremacy http://bit.ly/nyblQ7
Rick Santorum (via tweet):
7M Californians had their rights stripped away today by activist 9th Circuit judges. As president I will work to protect marriage.
Alliance Defence Fund (ADF):
Prop. 8 defenders will appeal decision upholding Hollywood, S.F. attack on marriage
SAN FRANCISCO — Defenders of marriage in California will appeal Tuesday’s ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that upheld a district judge’s decision against the state’s constitutional amendment protecting marriage. The ProtectMarriage.com legal defense team, including Alliance Defense Fund attorneys, expressed no surprise that the lawsuit over the amendment, which protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman, would progress beyond the three-judge 9th Circuit panel as has been long predicted by parties on both sides.
ProtectMarriage.com is the banner organization for the official proponents and campaign committee of Proposition 8, which 7 million California voters approved in November 2008. In its decision, the 9th Circuit affirmed the right of the official Proposition 8 proponents to continue to defend the amendment on appeal.
“No court should presume to redefine marriage. No court should undercut the democratic process by taking the power to preserve marriage out of the hands of the people,” said ADF Senior Counsel Brian Raum. “Americans overwhelmingly reject the idea of changing the definition of marriage. Sixty-three million Americans in 31 state elections have voted on marriage, and 63 percent voted to preserve marriage as the timeless, universal, unique union between husband and wife.”
“We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage–tried in San Francisco–turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court,” Raum added. “Every pro-marriage American should be pleased that this case can finally go to the full 9th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court. The ProtectMarriage.com legal team’s arguments align with every other federal appellate and Supreme Court decision on marriage in American history.”
Two of the three 9th Circuit judges concluded in Perry v. Brown that California’s marriage amendment–Article I, Section 7.5 of the state constitution–is unconstitutional in part because the court believed claims that voters sought to “target a minority group.”
“The argument that marriage as the union of a man and a woman is so irrational that it is inexplicable on any grounds other than animosity and antipathy is baseless,” explained lead counsel Charles J. Cooper with the Cooper & Kirk law firm. “Those pushing this argument condemn as bigoted not only a majority of Californians, but also an overwhelming majority of Americans from all walks of life, political parties, races, and creeds. The point was made best by New York’s high court: ‘The idea that same-sex marriage is even possible is a relatively new one. Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted. We do not so conclude.’”
A stay that prevents marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples in California is still in effect. In addition to ruling on the amendment, the 9th Circuit panel also denied a ProtectMarriage.com motion to have the district court ruling thrown out on the grounds that then District Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself.
SaveCalifornia.com’s (Campaign for Children and Families):
“Judicial activists like Stephen Reinhardt and Michael Daly Hawkins need to be reined in”
Thomasson available today to broadcast media by telephone or Video Skype
See SaveCalifornia.com’s (Campaign for Children and Families) amicus brief: Read it
See the terrible 128-page ruling from the three-judge panel: Download it here
Sacramento, California — Longtime pro-family leader Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, which represents moral virtues for the common good, has issued the following statement regarding the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreeing with homosexual judge Vaughn Walker that Californians’ vote in 2008 to reserve marriage licenses for “a man and a woman’ is somehow “unconstitutional”:
“God created a man and a woman to fit together in marriage. The People of California have twice affirmed this beautiful, natural, and exclusive pro-family institution between a husband and wife, a man and a woman. The Ninth Circuit ruling to strike down man-woman marriage, by a Carter judge and a Clinton judge, is unfair to the voters, against our republic, against our democratic system, against the United States Constitution, against Nature, and against God and His beneficial design of family.
“It’s illogical and unconstitutional to claim that natural, unchangeable race and ethnicity is the same as sexual behavior. That’s not fair or true. Race and ethnicity are inherited, but science has never found homosexuality, bisexuality, or transsexuality to be inherited or unchangeable. Neither is this about commitment. As the divorce of leading anti-Prop. 8 lesbians Robin Tyler and Diane Olson demonstrates, the notion of homosexual ‘marriage’ is not really about ‘commitment,’ but is a political agenda forcing acceptance of homosexuality upon the children of America. Yet nothing is equal to marriage between a man and a woman. If you don’t have a man and a woman, you don’t have marriage.
“Judicial activists like Stephen Reinhardt and Michael Daly Hawkins need to be reined in like Newt Gingrich has been saying about judicial activists. Marriage is not in the United States Constitution, so this case should never have gone to federal court. Now it will be appealed to the nation’s high court, with Anthony Kennedy being the deciding vote. Fortunately, in past rulings favoring homosexuality, Kennedy has written against redefining marriage, making it likely that he will affirm California’s right to reserve marriage licenses for ‘a man and a woman.'”
Family Research Council:
Family Research Council Criticizes Ninth Circuit Ruling to Overthrow Definition of Marriage
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council (FRC) today criticized a decision by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which overturned California’s Proposition 8, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. FRC filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the case, now known as Perry v. Brown.
Today’s ruling by a three-judge panel upheld a lower court decision by now-retired federal Judge Vaughn Walker in August 2010. Judge Walker later admitted he is himself a homosexual and has had a long-term partner, meaning that he potentially stood to personally benefit from the legalization of same-sex “marriage.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:
“Today’s decision was disappointing but not surprising, coming from the most liberal Circuit Court in the country. This Hollywood-funded lawsuit, which seeks to impose San Francisco values on the entire country, may eventually reach the Supreme Court. This is not about constitutional governance but the insistence of a group of activists to force their will on their fellow citizens.
“This ruling substitutes judicial tyranny for the will of the people, who in the majority of states have amended their constitutions, as California did, to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“However, we remain confident that in the end, the Supreme Court will reject the absurd argument that the authors of our Constitution created or even implied a ‘right’ to homosexual ‘marriage,’ and will instead uphold the right of the people to govern themselves.
“Voters in 31 states have voted to uphold the historic and natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Twenty-nine, a majority of American states, have actually inserted such a definition into the text of their state constitutions,” concluded Perkins.
Focus On The Family:
Colorado Springs, Colo. – Focus on the Family responds to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Proposition 8. This statement is attributable to Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst at Focus on the Family.
“We’re disappointed in today’s decision, but it was not entirely unexpected, given the record of the 9th Circuit.
“Opponents of Prop 8 insist on changing the definition of marriage for everyone, including children who deserve the opportunity to grow up in a home with their own married mother and father.
“But no judge has the right to redefine marriage. Doing so redefines parenthood, and offers yet another instance of social engineering based on the desires of adults rather than the interests of children. We’ve already seen, and continue to suffer from, the effects of divorce, unwed births and fatherlessness on children and families. This latest tinkering with marriage to remove mothers and fathers as an essential element of family poses serious ramifications for future generations.
“The long road to vindicating the right of more than 7 million California voters to establish public policy in this case continues, and we’re confident that as this case proceeds through the appeals process, today’s decision will not only be overturned but strongly denounced.”
To schedule an interview, please contact Monica Schleicher at 719-648-4590 or via email at Monica.Schleicher@fotf.org.
Traditional Values Coalition:
Statement Regarding Ninth Circuit Court Overturning California’s Marriage Amendment
Washington D.C. (February 7th, 2011) — Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) founder and chairman Rev. Lou Sheldon reacted to the recent Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court’s 2-1 ruling overturning California’s marriage amendment:
“What the liberals could not do through the voice of the people, they are forcing through judicial activism.
“The U.S. Ninth Circuit is the same court that rejected the Pledge of Allegiance. Their ruling today is not surprising. What should shock people is the timing. Homosexuals and transgenders had their chance to question the constitutionality of Proposition 8 long before it made the ballot. Now, after having lost at the ballot box, these homosexuals are forcing their agenda through the courts — a tried and true ally of radical liberals.
“This case now moves to the United States Supreme Court. Traditional Values Coalition looks forward to a speedy and swift affirmation of the will of Californians, and the rejection of judicial activism from the bench.
Reaction from Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel:
“This is a travesty of justice and it undermines the legitimacy of the judiciary,” Staver tells OneNewsNow. “When judges find that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, it’s absolutely absurd. This is, I think, an illustration of why the judiciary has lost the confidence of the American people.”
“If you look at ideology … pushed by this particular panel, obviously that’s what this panel did: they looked at their own ideological bias, their radical positions — not the Constitution itself. And when they did that, it undermined their own legitimacy — and I think this is the unraveling of the actual judiciary. It is the very seeds, as Thomas Jefferson said, of tyranny.”
National Organization for Marriage (NOM):
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, DC—”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 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;
• Once “marriage” rights have been granted to same-sex couples by a court, as occurred with the California Supreme Court, they may not be taken away by a state initiative;
• There is no rational basis to support the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and it is thus unconstitutional as violating the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
“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.