Motion filed in response to judge’s call for information to resolve
SAN FRANCISCO — Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today asked the U.S.
District Court in San Francisco to allow Our Family Coalition, Lavender
Seniors of the East Bay, and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and
Gays to intervene in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a federal lawsuit challenging
California’s Proposition 8. In an order issued June 30 and confirmed at a
hearing on July 1, Judge Vaughn R. Walker granted a motion to intervene by
supporters of Proposition 8, and declined to rule on a request by
plaintiffs for an immediate injunction staying the marriage ban. He called
instead for a trial to resolve a number of critically important factual
questions about LGBT people and constitutional rights including questions
about same-sex couples as parents, whether Proposition 8 was passed with
discriminatory intent, and whether allowing same-sex couples to marry
undermines the stability of heterosexual marriages.
"Denial of marriage inflicts harms that vary by age, socio-economic class,
the presence of minor children and the many other ways the gay community is
diverse, often stigmatized and uniquely vulnerable," said Jennifer C.
Pizer, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. "These groups
wish to illustrate for the court the diverse needs of their members and the
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community generally to
provide the full factual record Judge Walker said will help the appellate
courts as they decide whether LGBT people in California have the same basic
rights as the Golden State’s heterosexual population."
"The questions posed by the court are exactly the questions our
organizations have been addressing for years in state and federal courts
all across the country,"said James Esseks, co-director of the ACLU’s
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. "Again and again we’ve seen that
the more courts know about LGBT people, the better they understand why
everyone must be free to exercise the same constitutional rights regardless
of sexual orientation."
The law firms Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Boies, Schiller & Flexner filed
Perry v. Schwarzenegger in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
California on May 27, 2009 on behalf of two same-sex couples who were
denied a marriage license earlier that month.
“We believe the involvement of these community groups will significantly
help the Court decide the case,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the
National Center for Lesbian Rights. “Judge Walker said he believes the
appellate courts will benefit if he creates an evidentiary record about the
people affected by Proposition 8, the supposed reasons for the initiative,
and its actual effects. His view is consistent with our experience that
more information helps when courts are facing novel questions about LGBT
people and our families.”
Lambda Legal, NCLR and the ACLU also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in
the same case on June 26. Regarding the friend-of-the-court filing, Chad
Griffin, Board President of The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the
group backing the lawsuit, said in a statement, "We are pleased to have the
amicus brief from the ACLU, Lambda Legal and NCLR, which have brought
inspiring leadership and legal expertise to the cause of ensuring all
Americans are treated equally under the law. This case is about the denial
of fundamental Constitutional rights, and its significance is underscored
by the united front presented to the court."
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full
recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals,
transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education
and public policy work. www.lambdalegal.org
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization
committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation,
public policy advocacy, and public education. www.nclrights.org.
The American Civil Liberties Union is America’s foremost advocate of
individual rights. It fights discrimination and moves public opinion on
LGBT rights through the courts, legislatures and public education.
Jason Pérez Howe
Senior Public Information Officer
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