Posts tagged "California Prop 8"


As expected, SSM returns to California, Prop 8 thrown out.

Tomorrow’s the big day for the future of our nation on the subject of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. I surely hope that #SCOTUS decides to strike down #DOMA AND #Prop8


SCOTUS, your goals on the 2 big LGBTQ rights cases this week: Overturn DOMA and Prop 8.

Edie Windsor lost the love of her life in 2009. They had been together for more than 40 years. They were partners and best friends. They shared everything and honored their responsibilities to one another. Yet, in the eyes of federal law, their marriage was viewed as separate and unequal.

Edie and her late wife, Thea Spyer, are two of millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans denied their fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with their families. When Thea passed away, Edie was billed more than $363,000 in federal taxes — because, under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government treated her and Thea as complete strangers, thereby denying them the estate tax protections afforded to married couples.

With an unaffordable tax bill and an untenable system, Edie could not remain silent, and she decided to challenge DOMA as a violation of our Constitution. Thankfully, she is not alone.

Citizens across the country have risen up to challenge DOMA, and on Wednesday I will proudly join two of those Americans, my constituents Karen Golinski and Amy Cunninghis, to hear oral arguments before the Supreme Court. They have the support of President Obama, who ordered his administration to stop defending this measure in our legal system, and members of Congress, who have signed amicus briefs reaffirming our belief in marriage equality.

The only national leaders still standing on the wrong side of history are House Republicans, who have used taxpayer dollars to pay outside counsel to defend discrimination. The Republican-approved lawyers have lost in every case and appealed each ruling. So the fight goes on.

Wednesday, Edie’s case will come before the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, justices heard oral arguments on Proposition 8 — the measure that banned same-sex marriages in California.

In both cases, the justices will hear compelling stories of love, commitment and family. They will be asked to consider the individual facts of each argument alongside broader questions of DOMA and Prop. 8’s constitutionality. They will confront values and issues as old as our republic: matters of justice and civil rights, fairness and the role of government, equality and equal protection under the law.

The court’s conclusion must be firm and clear: DOMA and Prop. 8 are unconstitutional. Neither measure meets the standards of our founding principles. Both deserve to take their rightful place in the dustbin of history.

The proponents of laws against marriage equality have long known that such laws would not pass constitutional muster or withstand judicial review as demonstrated by their efforts to preclude judicial review. In 2004, the Republican-controlled House passed the so-called Marriage Protection Act to try to prevent federal courts from ruling on challenges to DOMA. They even claimed that the landmark case, Marbury v. Madison, was “wrongly decided.”

Their idea, known as “court-stripping,” betrays one of the cornerstones of our system of checks and balances: that our judiciary must be independent, free from manipulation by Congress and the president, so that our Constitution and individual rights are always safeguarded. Indeed, defending individual rights and equal protection are core functions of judicial review.

Those rights are at stake in the DOMA and Prop. 8 cases. It is clear that there is no legitimate federal or state government interest in discrimination. Under any standard or by any degree of judicial review, there is no justification for laws against marriage equality.

Both DOMA and Prop. 8 were enacted with motives ranging from “majoritarian prejudice or indifference.” Attempts have been made by proponents of these laws to justify them on erroneous and deeply offensive stereotypes. Yet prejudice — whether motivated by animus or indifference — does not make it right for LGBT families to be punished, stigmatized, or denied their rights.

By overturning DOMA, we will ensure that spousal benefits are provided to the husbands, wives and partners of LGBT service members and veterans. We will strengthen our economy by delivering tax deductions and employee benefits to same-sex couples, in the private sector and the federal workforce. By overturning Prop. 8, California can join the march of states across the country extending the rights and responsibilities of marriage to LGBT Americans.

For Edie Windsor and millions like her, the journey has been long, hard, and defined too often by stigma, injustice and inequality. For all Americans, the fight for civil rights has been a defining cause for our country. With the Supreme Court’s action, that journey and that fight can once again bear the fruits of progress. We can bend the moral arc of history once more toward justice and secure a future of equality for all American families. Today, I hope justice prevails for Windsor and for all LGBT Americans.

Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, is the House Democratic Leader and has represented San Francisco in Congress for 25 years.

I wish that she was still the Speaker of the House.

h/t: USA Today

In oral arguments Tuesday morning on California’s Proposition 8, the Supreme Court appeared narrowly divided on the question of whether the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection affords same sex couples the right to marry — but a majority of the justices appeared skeptical that the case has standing and flirted with throwing it out.

Chief Justice John Roberts set the tone by asking each of the lawyers to begin by explaining why the case has standing. The other justices backed him up with a series of questions, even as all three lawyers arguing the case insisted that it was properly brought before the court.

Seven of the justices voiced skepticism, to varying degrees, about whether the case was properly before the court. At issue is whether the case was properly defended. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declined to defend Prop 8 in court, and the defense was undertaken by one of the original proponents of Prop 8.

“I suppose there might be people out there with a personal interest” in whether gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, said Roberts.

“On a question of such fundamental importance why should it not be left to the people?” asked Alito, who also questioned whether the judiciary ought to be able to decide whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage, “which is newer than cellphones or the internet.”

Justice Stephen Breyer said the group defending Prop 8 was “no more than a group of five people who feel really strongly that they should vindicate the public interest.”

Justice Antonin Scalia was the only one not

The justices also held a spirited debate on the merits and appeared sharply divided as to whether or not states have the right to outlaw same-sex couples from marrying.

The political and legal history of gay marriage in California is torturous. Proposition 8 was passed by California voters in November 2008 in response to a ruling by the state Supreme Court earlier that same year that found a right to gay marriage under the California constitution. Same-sex marriage had previously been banned by statute and by a referendum passed by the voters in 2000. Following the passage of Prop 8, the California Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that it was valid, but left intact and legal the gay marriages that had been legally performed before Prop 8 passed. Challenges to Prop 8 were filed in federal court and eventually made their way to the Supreme Court, but not before an exceptional amount of legal wrangling and further involvement by the California Supreme Court.

h/t: TPMDC

Looks like Prop 8 will be history by the end of June.

Special Tuesday Prayer Notice: We pray that SCOTUS decides to nix both the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Prop 8 laws when they will be decided on, which is most likely going to occur in the final week of June of this year (much like how SCOTUS ruled on PPACA and AZ SB1070 during the last week of June back in 2012). It’s time to throw DOMA and Prop 8 off the books!

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday morning on California’s Proposition 8 — a case that could settle the national debate over marriage equality once and for all.

Or it could throw it back to the political realm for a series of lengthy battles across the dozens of states that have yet to permit same-sex couples to marry.

The case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, is about whether California’s ban on gay marriage, adopted by voters in 2008, violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. The lawsuit was brought by Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, who in May 2009 were denied a marriage license because they were a same-sex couple. Represented by über-lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, they want the justices to recognize a constitutional right to marry. If a majority of the Court agrees, it would wipe out all state bans on gay marriage.

Alternatively the justices could reach a narrow ruling that strikes down just Prop 8 on the particulars and perhaps some other state bans on marriage equality — while leaving other bans intact. One possible route for the court would be to say states may not take away same-sex marriage rights after they have granted them, as California did prior to the passage of Prop 8.

The defenders of Prop 8 —, which spearheaded the original ballot initiative — argue that marriage should be left to states. If the justices agree, Prop 8 (and other gay marriage bans) would be upheld and proponents of gay marriage would face a state-by-state battle to overturn existing bans.

The outcome is difficult to predict. Even though the national political tide is turning rapidly in favor of equality, and although swing Justice Anthony Kennedy has a gay rights streak, some court watchers doubt that the most conservative Supreme Court since the 1930s would leap ahead of most states on the issue and enshrine a right to marry. On the other hand, some lower court decisions point to a victory for same sex couples in California, if not other states as well. (The Obama administration recently championed a constitutional right for gays to marry.)

Alternatively, the justices could determine that the case lacks standing because California has refused to defend the law, and send it back to the lower courts to try again. This is less likely given that the Court agreed to take up two major gay marriage cases back to back.

The Tuesday oral arguments on Prop 8 will be followed Wednesday by arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prohibits federal recognition of gay marriage and denies benefits to legally married same sex couples.


CHICAGO (Reuters) - Like many gay couples in the United States, Theresa Volpe and Mercedes Santos of Chicago will be keeping a close eye on the U.S. Supreme Court this week as it hears arguments on two same-sex marriage cases.

The high court review coincides with a crucial moment at home in the couple’s fight to make Illinoisthe tenth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Volpe and Santos, who have personally lobbied Illinois lawmakers on this issue, worry about delays in drumming up enough votes for passage of a bill in their state and a growing campaign from opponents.

Supporters had hoped the bill would sail through the Democratic-majority legislature in President Barack Obama's home state in January. But it took until Valentine's Day to go through the Senate and was still several votes short in the House by late March.

"What’s going on in Illinois is a little disturbing - we’re worried and anxious, but I know they’re working hard to make things happen," said Santos, who is bringing up two children with Volpe.

The delay underscores the difficulty of securing approval for gay marriage, even in a state with strong Democratic majorities in the legislature and a Democratic governor who supports it.

During a two-week legislative spring break that began on Monday, both sides were intensifying their efforts.

Opponents of the bill are focusing mainly on the more conservative and rural areas of the state south of Chicago, and some African-American districts in Chicago.

More than 425,000 robo-calls have been placed to constituents in more than 20 districts, according to Paul Caprio, director of Family-Pac, an Illinois-based family values political action group opposed to gay marriage.

Calls to six African-American districts have featured the voice of former state Senator James Meeks, a prominent Chicago black minister opposed to same-sex nuptials.

"We’ve had tremendous response from the minority community on this issue," Caprio said.

In one call to people in southwestern Illinois, Caprio’s voice asks voters whether their state lawmaker stands for “the Chicago homosexuals, or your family?”


Bernard Cherkasov, executive director of Equality Illinois, a Chicago-based gay rights organization, said proponents were focusing more on personal appeals to legislators from constituents, including ministers and rabbis and gay couples themselves.

"I do feel really optimistic. We’re really close, we’re in striking distance to passing the bill," he said.

Volpe, 42, and Santos, 47, are among the gay couples who taken their appeal to lawmakers in the Illinois state capital of Springfield.

They have been together for 21 years and have two children, Ava, 8, and Jaidon, 4, conceived through an anonymous donor. The couple became outspoken advocates for gay marriage after Jaidon suffered kidney failure two years ago and was in danger of dying.

While Theresa filled out the paperwork at the hospital, Mercedes sat with him in his room. But then Theresa was told she could not see Jaidon, as there was no hospital policy for two mothers.

They believe marriage will be easier to explain to people at hospitals and other facilities than the civil union they formed after Illinois approved that option in 2011. And they want the federal rights heterosexual couples have, including Social Security benefits and tax exemptions for a surviving spouse’s inheritance.

"We want people to realize that we’re just like any other family - we love our kids - we don’t do anything special but be parents," Santos said.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a challenge against California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage known as Proposition 8. On Wednesday, the justices will hear arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act, which excludes gay couples from federal benefits.

It is difficult to predict how the court might rule on Proposition 8, and how that would affect other states. One option could affect Illinois and other states that are like California in allowing civil unions but forbidding actual marriage. The Obama administration wants the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8 because it relegates such same-sex civil unions to a lower legal status.

Public opinion nationally has been turning in favor of gay marriage and civil unions. A Reuters/Ipsos poll in mid-March found 63 percent of Americans in favor of gay marriage or civil unions.

(Additional reporting by Joan Biskupic; Editing by Greg McCune, Mary Milliken and David Brunnstrom)

h/t: Yahoo! News