SAN FRANCISCO - The National Center for Lesbian
Rights, Equality California, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern
California, and Lambda Legal jointly filed an amicus brief in the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals asking the court to lift the temporary stay in the
federal court challenge to Proposition 8.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional in
August 2010. However, that same month the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
issued a stay, preventing same-sex couples from marrying while the case is
on appeal. The brief argues that same-sex couples suffer irreparable harm
as long as the stay is in effect.
On January 4, 2011, the federal appeals court asked the California Supreme
Court for guidance on an issue related to whether the sponsors of Prop 8
have standing to pursue an appeal. The California Supreme Court said on
February 16, 2011, that it would consider the question with oral arguments
to be held "as early as September," meaning a decision likely would not
come until the end of this year at the earliest.
"It's well recognized that our government should not mistreat us, and that
denial of basic constitutional rights inflicts irreparable harm. That is
why our government is always supposed to err on the side of treating each
of us as free and equal; it's the discrimination that should be 'stayed,'
not civil rights," said Jennifer C. Pizer, Lambda Legal National Marriage
Project Director. "The trial court saw that the backers of Prop 8 will
suffer no loss of their freedom if the stay is lifted, but that thousands
of California couples are harmed by being denied a chance to make the same
commitment in marriage that others take for granted and treasure. Every day
the stay remains in place cuts a little deeper as the state refuses to
recognize their full equality and human worth. Everyone wins when everyone
is treated equally."
"Each day that couples are prevented from marrying harms their families in
countless ways," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. "The current
legal challenge to Prop 8 could take months or years to resolve. The court
should lift the stay and let all Californians exercise their
constitutionally protected freedom to be treated as equal citizens and to
choose whether to express their love and commitment through marriage."
Said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors: "Every day that
Prop 8 remains in effect, same-sex couples and their families face gross
inequality, stigma and are denied access to the security and dignity that
other families enjoy. We cannot let tens of thousands of Californians
suffer even one more day without the freedom and equality that is
guaranteed to them by our nation's constitution."
Equality California is represented by Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, PC.