Lambda Legal Applauds Perry v. Schwarzenegger Ruling Striking Down Prop 8

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"The evidence and legal arguments proved once again that withholding marriage harms devoted same-sex couples and their families, and helps no one."
August 4, 2010
Jennifer C. Pizer

"The meticulous assessment of the Prop 8 defenders' case today makes clear: there's no there, there."

(Los Angeles, August 4, 2010) — Jennifer C. Pizer, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, issued the following statement in reaction to today's decision from U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker in Perry v. Schwarzenegger:

"This is historic. Last summer, Judge Walker asked for a detailed factual record so he could assess the public interests supposedly served by Proposition 8. The meticulous assessment of the Prop 8 defenders' case today makes clear: there's no there, there. In holding that Prop 8 cannot stand because it violates the equal protection and due process rights of California's lesbian and gay couples, this decision adds to the growing consensus in courts and legislatures across the country that there are no good reasons for excluding same-sex couples from marriage. Instead, the evidence and legal arguments proved once again that withholding marriage harms devoted same-sex couples and their families, and helps no one.

"The court examined the range of excuses used by anti-gay groups to justify this government discrimination against same-sex couples. The testimony of leading experts on everything from child development to adult psychology to the public costs of anti-gay discrimination laid bare the misinformation and outright lies that anti-gay groups have been pushing on the public.

"This thorough review of both sides' evidence vindicates the rights of LGBT people not only to marry based on love and commitment, as heterosexuals do, but to be treated equally and fairly by their government more generally. Just as past marriage victories laid the foundation for today's important win, the court's preparation of a detailed record for the Court of Appeals provides a potent tool for other legal cases and the many, ongoing educational campaigns. It doubtless will help more people see that anti-gay discrimination in marriage is destructive and unjustifiable.

"No one is under any illusion that today's decision is the end of this fight. Prop 8's proponents have made clear they will appeal. But today, we appreciate the clear and detailed analysis in this decision that will frame the case as it moves forward, and we congratulate the legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies, and of the City and County of San Francisco, for presenting such a thorough and compelling case in court."

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 22, 2009, on behalf of two same-sex couples who had been denied marriage licenses earlier that month. The case challenges California's Proposition 8, which changed the California Constitution on November 4, 2008 to eliminate lesbian and gay couples' right to marry in that state.

Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed two friend-of-the-court briefs in the case supporting the argument that Prop 8 violates the federal Constitution. The LGBT legal groups' amicus briefs explained that, given California's unique history and laws and the campaign process through which Prop 8 was enacted: (1) the measure is an unlawful denial of equal protection no matter what form of constitutional review is applied and (2) it fails the heightened due process review required under the U.S. Constitution.

As of today, ten countries allow same-sex couples to marry: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden). Lesbian and gay couples also can marry in Mexico City—the most populous city in North America.

In the United States, the following six jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to marry: Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The California Supreme Court held in May 2009 that the estimated 18,000 couples who married in California between that court's marriage equality decision in May 2008 and Prop 8's passage on November 4, 2008 remain validly married under California law. At least Maryland and New York honor married same-sex couples' marital status from other states. At least California and New Jersey treat married same-sex couples as entitled to all state law rights and responsibilities through state domestic partnership or civil union rules.

According to U.S. Census figures for 2005, California is home to more than 100,000 same-sex couples, living in every county in the state and raising nearly 40,000 children but with fewer financial resources than their married counterparts. The data also show more than 1,300,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals living in California, and that California's LGB population is racially and ethnically diverse and by far the largest nationally.

Read the decision.

More information on protecting same-sex relationships.

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Contact Info

Contact: Tom Warnke; 213-382-7600 ex 247;twarnke@lambdalegal.org

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.

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