Freedom To Marry
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."
Moments ago, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a California state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The Court found that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the US Constitution. The Court also found that denying same sex couples also denied them their Constitutional right to equal protection.
The case will likely be appealed to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit and/or the US Supreme Court, but it is a groundbreaking federal opinion.
"The 9th Circuit recognized that there is no 'rational basis' to deny same-sex couples the right to marry and that marriage is a fundamental right that same-sex couples are entitled to. This is an historic opinion that dramatically shifts the dialogue in favor of equal rights for same-sex couples," says Ed Mullen, Executive Director of Equality Ohio.
Our fight for equality has been boosted substantially by this historic decision, but the work is far from over. As you know, Equality doesn't just happen overnight. It's a struggle won through small victories, losses and everything in between.
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."
Empire State Pride Agenda
Statement of Ross D. Levi, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, on the Prop. 8 Ruling By the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
"It is very heartening that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California agrees that all loving committed couples should be able to marry and their families offered the same legal protections as others.
"In New York State, more than a decade of work resulted in our marriage win, and we have seen only positive effects from loving same-sex couples being able to marry - from the income generated by their weddings to the legal protections afforded to these families to the outpouring of joy as New Yorkers have seen their friends, family and neighbors publicly declare their love and commitment to each other.
"We must be vigilant in defending our victory here in the Empire State. All of the New York State legislators - Democrats and Republicans, Senators and Assemblymembers -- who voted for marriage are up for election this November. As a community, we must flex our political muscle in standing by those who stood by us.
"We also must remember that while our win here in New York has given us access to over a thousand protections and responsibilities for our families, we need to be treated as married by our federal government as well in order to access the important protections it provides, from Social Security benefits to immigration to equal federal taxation. Today's decision is an important step in achieving that equality, not only as New Yorkers, but as Americans."
Family Equality Council
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."
The Courage Campaign
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."
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld the historic August 2010 ruling by now-retired U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Lambda Legal's Legal Director Jon Davidson issued the following statement:
"This ruling foreshadows the ultimate fate of other states in the Ninth Circuit like Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Hawaii that refuse to recognize the equal dignity of same-sex couples and their families by shunting them off into second-class statuses like domestic partnerships or civil unions. The tide is not turning; it has turned; and we are glad to see the Ninth Circuit join the right side of history.
"This is an exciting day for all of us, and especially for those of us at Lambda Legal who have been fighting for marriage equality for decades, from our efforts in Hawaii almost 20 years ago to our victories before the California Supreme Court in 2008 and the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009, to our ongoing lawsuit in New Jersey. It is inevitable that marriage equality will be won across the nation through either the legislative or judicial processes.
"The Court has also rejected the desperate and insulting effort by Prop 8 proponents to vacate Judge Walker's ruling by arguing that his sexual orientation and long-term same-sex relationship rendered him incapable of interpreting the law or upholding his sworn duty to rule impartially.
"Same-sex couples in California are one step closer to the long-awaited day when this terrible discrimination against them and their families is over and they can, once again, exercise the right to marry and be treated equally under the law. We congratulate the plaintiffs and their legal team for achieving this momentous victory."
In a series of rulings today, the Ninth Circuit:
- affirmed Judge Walker's original ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional;
- determined that the Prop 8 proponents had the ability to defend the discriminatory statute after California state officials had declined to appeal Judge Walker's ruling invalidating it; and
- upheld a ruling by U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware denying Prop 8 proponents' motion to invalidate Judge Walker's original decision because he is gay and in a long-term relationship with a man and therefore supposedly should have declined to hear the case.
Lambda Legal joined with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union for Northern California, and Equality California in filing friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Ninth Circuit to uphold both Judge Walker's ruling striking down Prop 8 and Judge Ware's denial of the Proponent's attempt to vacate that ruling. Lambda Legal and its partners also joined in a friend-of-the-court brief before the California Supreme Court arguing that Prop 8 proponents lack standing to defend the statute in the appeal.
The case is Perry v. Brown. The plaintiffs are represented by the law firms of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Boies, Schiller, & Flexner and the plaintiff-intervenor is represented by the San Francisco City Attorney's office.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
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.
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."
Transgender Law Center
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."
Just moments ago, a federal appeals court struck down California's ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples (Proposition 8).
The inexorable march to full marriage equality achieved a significant milestone with the historic ruling that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. The court's gratifying decision makes a clear statement that marriage equality is a fundamental freedom. This victory, if upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, will restore full marriage equality in California, the nation's largest state, and add to the pressure in Illinois and elsewhere in the country to end marriage discrimination. In addition to the dignity and respect marriage equality grants loving and committed couples, it ensures security and critical safety net protections for all married couples and their families.
While we support the implementation of civil unions in Illinois in 2011, it still falls short of achieving full marriage equality on the state level and does little to guarantee the federal rights and privileges that marriage provides opposite-sex couples. With this ruling, political leaders who support full equality will have important arguments to share with state legislators who will inevitably be asked to vote on full marriage rights in the future.
Lawmakers need not wait for the ultimate disposition of the California case and other legal rulings to do the right thing in Springfield and Washington, D.C. to end marriage discrimination.
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."
Human Rights Campaign
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.
LA Gay & Lesbian Center
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."
Congressman Jared Polis
Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) released the following statement regarding the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision declaring unconstitutional California Proposition 8, which outlawed marriage equality. It is now expected that the decision will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"No law that denies any American the right to marry the person that they love can be called constitutional, moral or just. Today's decision by the 9th Circuit is a victory for the cause of justice and the ideal that we are all created equal and are all equal before the law. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will come down on the side of marriage equality and recognize the committed and loving relationships of millions of American couples."
People for the American Way
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld the district court decision striking down California's Proposition 8, which bans marriage equality in the state. Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way, issued the following statement in response:
"Today's ruling is a major victory for equality and for the thousands of California couples who saw their marriage rights disappear four years ago.
"Proposition 8 hurt Californians. It took away the freedom of committed couples to legally marry, to raise children in security, to visit each other in the hospital and to provide for each other in old age. It hurt gay and lesbian Californians, and it hurt their friends and families. Proposition 8 wasn't just unconstitutional - it was simply wrong.
"I congratulate all the Californians who have regained their freedom to marry, and hope that that freedom will soon be extended to every American."
National Organization for Marriage
"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;
- 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.
National Center for Transgender Equality
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.
National Gay & Lesbian 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."
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which has won marriage equality cases in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and partnered with New England state organizations to win marriage legislatively in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, today applauded the victory of California's same-sex couples in the case Perry v. Brown.
"We are thrilled that California's same-sex couples are again on track to gaining the freedom to marry," said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD's Civil Rights Project Director. "We applaud the Court's ruling that taking away marriage from same-sex couples but leaving Registered Domestic Partnership laws in place accomplishes nothing but stigmatizing committed same-sex relationships. We hope that California citizens will soon be able to marry the person they love."
Gary Buseck, GLAD's Legal Director, added, "Starting with our victory in Massachusetts in 2003, and now in other states, we've seen how marriage honors enduring commitments and brings an outbreak of happiness."
Same-sex married couples still face federal discrimination against their marriages because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). GLAD's two federal court cases challenging DOMA are also on track to be heard at the Court of Appeals level, and then likely the U.S. Supreme Court. Gill v. Office of Personnel Management is on appeal in the First Circuit following a district court ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional. GLAD is awaiting a district court ruling in the Second Circuit case Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management. In both cases, GLAD is representing same-sex married couples and widowers who were denied federal rights in Social Security, tax filing, family medical leave, employee benefits and pension protections because of DOMA.
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Congressman Sherman, a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, issued the followed statement regarding the recent court decision on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8:
"I'm extremely pleased that the 9th Circuit court upheld the decision to find Proposition 8 unconstitutional," said Sherman.
"We should reject any law that denies certain citizens the legal rights and protections that are available to others, simply because of their sexual preference. Everyone should have the right to marry the person of their choosing. Furthermore the rights of the minority should not be voted upon. In America rights should be granted equality to all citizens across the board. I would hope this decision is upheld if an appeal moves to the Supreme Court."
Love, Honor, Cherish
Love Honor Cherish applauds today's ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that Prop 8 is unconstitutional because it was "born of disapproval of gays and lesbians" and "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." Sadly, however, the court also kept in place a stay of the decision, which could be extended until the case is finally disposed of sometime in the far future. As a result, same sex couples will still not be able to marry and Prop 8 will remain in our constitution sending a strong message to LGBT people everywhere that their relationships, and their lives, have less value. "Today's ruling is an historic step forward towards full equality for the LGBT community," said LHC's Board Chair, Thomas Watson. "While we are thrilled with today's ruling that Prop 8 violates the federal constitution, this is not the end of the road. Until the appellate process ends and the stay is lifted, justice will not have been done. Life is not eternal, and every day that Californians are denied the freedom to marry is a day that gay and lesbian couples and their families are grievously harmed."
It is now more than three years since Prop 8 passed and the appellate process continues to drag on. Under present circumstances, same sex couples may continue to be denied the right to marry for many months or even years. Because the majority of Californians are ready to repeal Prop 8, we believe that it is important to be prepared to go to the ballot on November 6, 2012 if marriages do not resume by Spring. Accordingly, Love Honor Cherish will continue to pursue all necessary steps to preserve the option of repealing Proposition 8 at the ballot box. "Every gay and lesbian Californian should have the same rite of passage as their straight brothers and sisters. Every day that we are denied this right, we are being forced to wear a badge of inferiority and shame," said LHC's Executive Director, Eric Harrison. "It is wrong to wait another day for full equality under the law."
Tonight, Love Honor Cherish is joining the City of West Hollywood and a coalition of organizations for a rally and march in reaction to the Ninth Circuit's ruling.
We will gather at West Hollywood Park (next to the Abbey) to hear various speakers from the community, including West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, NoH8 founder Adam Bouska, longtime LGBT rights activist and icon Diane Abbitt, Stonewall Democratic Club Political VP Nii-Quartelai Quartey, Rev. Susan Russell and Lambda Legal's, Legal Director Jon Davidson. Then we will march down Santa Monica Boulevard.
The rally and march are sponsored by Love Honor Cherish, City of West Hollywood, NoH8, Marriage Equality USA, Lesbian & Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, Lambda Legal, California Faith for Equality, Latino Equality Alliance, Stonewall Democratic Club, Log Cabin Republicans of Los Angeles, GetEQUAL, Hollywood NOW (National Organization for Women), Christopher Street West, Ecumenical Catholic Church of Riverside, GLIvyN, MarriageTrial.com, Equal Roots Coalition, and more.
ARRIVAL: Please arrive early, beginning at 5:30PM. We will start promptly at 6PM.
PARKING: Please park at the structure next to the West Hollywood Library.
MATERIALS: Signs will be provided.
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National Stonewall Democrats
National Stonewall Democrats applauds the ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California upholding the ruling by Judge Walker that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. The majority opinion from the court was very clear, "Prop 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in CA."
"It has been clear from the beginning that Prop 8 unjustly targeted gay and lesbian couples for discrimination," said National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis. "Enacting laws that take away rights from gays and lesbians is not only unconstitutional, it's simply un-American. Congratulations are in order for all who were part of this case, but particularly for the plaintiffs, whose bravery and steadfast demands for justice were heard loud and clear.
"This ruling should be required reading for the GOP presidential hopefuls who continue to vow their support for a federal constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality. The arc of history bends toward justice, not the bigotry and discrimination these candidates represent."
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released the following statement today following the decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that Proposition 8, California's ban on marriage equality, violated the Constitution:
"Today's decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 is a victory for equal justice under law. Despite the many barriers to full equality, this decision represents a major step forward for couples seeking the freedom to marry. My office will continue to stand up for the fundamental guarantee of equal protection under law for all New Yorkers, and lead the path to fairness and equality for all Americans."
American Foundation for Equal Rights
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."
Washington United for Marriage
Washington United for Marriage, a broad statewide coalition of organizations, congregations, unions and business associations that will work to obtain civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples in Washington State in 2012, today cheered the ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case of Perry v Brown - the challenge to the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in California that banned same-sex couples from marrying.
"Today was a great day for same-sex couples in California," said Zach Silk, Campaign Manager for Washington United for Marriage. "With the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling that Proposition 8 in California is indeed unconstitutional, it gives hope to hundreds of thousands of loving lesbian and gay couples in the country. While the decision was narrowly construed and would only apply to California families, it is a victory nonetheless. It will no doubt help provide additional momentum for our efforts to win and defend marriage equality in Washington State."
The court agreed with the trial court judge that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution by denying gays and lesbians equal protection of the laws. The decision was narrowly focused on the specific circumstances of California, where marriage was available to same-sex couples and then stripped away by the adoption of Proposition 8. The Ninth Circuit has stayed its decision temporarily, and is likely to extend that stay pending appeal. As a result, gay and lesbian couples will not be able to marry in California at this time.
Family Research Council
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 substitute's 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 implieda '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.
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."