Gay Primary Source

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cal Gov Opposes Stay of Prop 8 Decision

"Defendants Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his official capacity as Governor of California, Mark B. Horton, in his official capacity as Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Registrar of Vital Statistics, and Linette Scott, in her official capacity as Deputy Director of Health Information & Strategic Planning for the California Department of Public Health (collectively, "the Administration"), oppose defendant-intervenors’ "Motion for Stay Pending Appeal." From the outset, the Administration has urged the Court to resolve the important constitutional questions at issue in this case as expeditiously as possible. Now, after extensive discovery, a lengthy trial, thorough briefing, and development of a complete evidentiary record, the Court has done so. After cataloging the evidence and making detailed factual findings and legal conclusions, the Court has enjoined enforcement of Proposition 8 and, in effect, ordered California to resume issuing marriage licenses in a gender-neutral manner, as had been done before Proposition 8 went into effect. In doing so, the Court has fulfilled its constitutional duty to determine fundamental questions of due process, equal protection, and freedom from discrimination. The Administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the Court’s judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Doing so is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect. Conversely, the Administration submits that staying the Court’s judgment pending appeal is not necessary to protect any governmental or public interest. As the Court has pointed out, California has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples without suffering any resulting harm. Government officials can resume issuing such licenses without administrative delay or difficulty. For these reasons, the Administration respectfully requests that the Court deny defendant-intervenors’ motion for stay." August 6, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [his attorneys] submitted this brief in opposition to the motion to stay U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling invalidating Proposition 8.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Proposition 8 Struck Down

"The arguments surrounding Proposition 8 raise a question similar to that addressed in Lawrence, when the Court asked whether a majority of citizens could use the power of the state to enforce "profound and deep convictions accepted as ethical and moral principles" through the criminal code. The question here is whether California voters can enforce those same principles through regulation of marriage licenses. They cannot.

California’s obligation is to treat its citizens equally, not to "mandate [its] own moral code." "[M]oral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest," has never been a rational basis for legislation. Tradition alone cannot support legislation. Proponents’ purported rationales are nothing more than post-hoc justifications. While the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit post-hoc rationales, they must connect to the classification drawn. Here, the purported state interests fit so poorly with Proposition 8 that they are irrational, as explained above. What is left is evidence that Proposition 8 enacts a moral view that there is something "wrong" with same-sex couples. The evidence at trial regarding the campaign to pass Proposition 8 uncloaks the most likely explanation for its passage: a desire to advance the belief that opposite-sex couples are morally superior to same-sex couples. The campaign relied heavily on negative stereotypes about gays and lesbians and focused on protecting children from inchoate threats vaguely associated with gays and lesbians... At trial, proponents’ counsel attempted through cross-examination to show that the campaign wanted to protect children from learning about same-sex marriage in school... The evidence shows, however, that Proposition 8 played on a fear that exposure to homosexuality would turn children into homosexuals and that parents should dread having children who are not heterosexual.

The testimony of George Chauncey places the Protect Marriage campaign advertisements in historical context as echoing messages from previous campaigns to enact legal measures to disadvantage gays and lesbians. The Protect Marriage campaign advertisements ensured California voters had these previous fear-inducing messages in mind. The evidence at trial shows those fears to be completely unfounded. Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. ("[L]aws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected."). Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

CONCLUSION: Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

REMEDIES: Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to samesex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result... moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings. Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment without bond in favor of plaintiffs and plaintiff-intervenors and against defendants and defendant-intervenors pursuant to FRCP 58.

August 4, 2010, Vaughn R. Walker, United States District Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of California.