Equality California
Equality California Files Briefs Opposing Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act
March 1, 2013

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Equality California Files Briefs Opposing Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act

(Los Angeles) Equality California filed friend-of-the-court briefs in two separate marriage cases before the Supreme Court.

In United States v. Windsor, Equality California joined eight other state equality organizations in asking the Court to remedy the significant and daily injury that the Defense of Marriage Act causes tens of thousands of married same-sex couples. Download brief in PDF form

In Hollingsworth v. Perry, or the Proposition 8 case, the proponents of Prop. 8 must demonstrate that they have standing — or personal legal interest — in the case and would suffer actual injury if Prop. 8 was overturned. As no conceivable injury results from loving couples enjoying the freedom to marry, Equality California asks the court to deny the Prop. 8 proponents’ standing and to maintain the injunction against enforcement of Prop. 8 so that all Californians are free to marry. Download brief in PDF form

Other friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the freedom to marry and overturning DOMA have been filed by the U.S. Justice Department, state and local legislators, California corporations including Apple and Facebook, and over 100 Republicans from around the country.

“When the struggle to ensure the freedom to marry began, there were only a few organizations like ours raising our voices for equality and justice,” said John O’Connor, Equality California executive director. “Today, we know that we are not alone. We have been joined by the President of the United States, by business leaders from around the nation, and even by many Republicans in recognizing that every American deserves the freedom to marry the person they love, and for that marriage to be equal in dignity and respect to any other.”

Last December, the Court announced that it would review Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which two federal courts ruled that California’s Prop. 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The previous federal court rulings in the case — by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker in 2010 and by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012 — are still on hold while the Supreme Court considers the case. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June 2013, but in the meantime, Proposition 8 continues in force in California. As a result, same-sex couples continue to be unable to marry in California while the case is pending before the Supreme Court.

The Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief encouraging the Court to uphold the Walker and appellate rulings under the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The brief notes that banning marriage for loving same-sex couples serves no compelling interest, and, due to the historical discrimination that LGBT people face, calls for a strict scrutiny standard to be applied to laws that disadvantage LGBT people.

“We are grateful for President Obama’s leadership, both in filing a brief and in what the brief affirmed — that the freedom to marry extends to all loving couples in America,” said John O’Connor. “Our movement spoke — both LGBT people and allies — and we are extremely pleased that the President heard our voice and joined with us in calling for this discrimination to end.”

The Supreme Court is also considering a separate case, United States v. Windsor, in which the Court will decide whether the DOMA is unconstitutional. Federal courts in California, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut have found unconstitutional the portion of the federal DOMA that prevents married same-sex couples from having access to equal treatment under federal laws, including social security and tax laws. The Court’s consideration of DOMA will play an important role in shaping the federal relationship to the marriages of same-sex couples.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 90 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org 

john perez