California Supreme Court Ready To Hear Arguments Challenging Prop 8

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The California Supreme Court hears arguments in San Francisco today (Thursday, 3.5) in three suits challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. 
The measure, known as “Proposition 8” was approved by voters in November. 
It’s attracted global attention as both sides debate the definition of marriage. 
Last May…when the State Supreme Court ruled that California must allow same-sex couples to wed…thousands of gays and lesbians lined up to tie the knot, including hundreds of couples in Sacramento… 
“By the power vested in me by the state of California…I now pronounce you husband and husband, and you may now kiss…(applause up and under)
But, like more than 18-thousand other same sex couples in California…this marriage could be in limbo.
It may hinge on how the State Supreme Court rules on proposition 8. 
The initiative amended the California constitution to define legal marriage as between one man and one woman.   
Prop 8 was drafted by opponents of gay marriage.  Andrew Pugno is an attorney who’s asking the court to uphold Prop 8… 
“Our position is that the voters were well within their rights to amend the constitution. To restore a marriage to the way it was during the first 158 years of California statehood…”
Brad Dacus is with the Pacific Justice Institute. 
It’s a conservative think tank…that’s filed a half dozen legal briefs asking the Supreme Court to continue California’s ban on same sex marriages.  He says the battle over Prop 8 is about protecting public discourse… 

“If the state supreme court rejects the voice of the people in decision to amend the state constitution.  And, they use the state constitution to strike down an amendment to the state constitution…then without reason this extreme jucidicial activism will result in voters no longer believing that their vote counts…”
Geof Kors is president of “Equality California” a gay rights group that’s filed one of the challenges to Prop 8.  The others were filed by the ACLU and City of San Francisco.  
Kors says Prop 8 is much bigger than moral attitudes about homosexuality… 
“This case is not about the ability for gay couples to marry…but about  whether a simple majority can vote to take away the rights of one particular minority that everyone else enjoys…”    
But, Larry Levine says gay marriages already performed in California ARE a big question mark.  He’s a professor at McGeorge School of law at University of The Pacific in Sacramento… 
“I assume that the issue that they will find the easiest is the issue about the validity of existing marriages.  And, I expect to get a feel from the oral argument that there’s an inclination by the majority to keep those marriages intact…”
The lead attorney asking the State Supreme Court to uphold proposition 8 is Kenneth Starr, known for his work leading to President Clinton’s impeachment. 
And, on the other side…another big hitter Civil Rights Attorney Gloria Allred.    
The court will hear a total of three hours of oral arguments today.  It’s expected to make a ruling within 90 days. 
Meantime, state lawmakers this week approved non-binding resolutions declaring their opposition to Prop 8.