Lambda Legal Urges Supreme Court to Strike Down Prop 8

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February 28, 2013

Lambda Legal submitted a brief today urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Prop 8, which revoked same-sex couples’ freedom to marry in California.

The friend-of-the-court brief filed by Lambda Legal and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) argues, “Proposition 8 required the state to provide lesbians and gay men less protection against inequality than anyone else, which literally violates the mandate of the federal Equal Protection Clause.”

Jon Davidson, Legal Director of Lambda Legal, says:

Prop 8 violates the express command of the federal Equal Protection Clause. What Prop 8 did was to add a subsection to the California Constitution’s equal protection clause, amending it to specifically exclude lesbians and gay men from the state’s equality guarantee when it comes to marriage. Prop 8 caused California’s charter to protect everyone but gay people against inequality in marriage—protecting even those convicted of murdering a prior spouse. In effect, Prop 8 turned the state’s equal protection clause into a clause mandating unequal protection.

The brief also argues that, although laws such as Prop 8 that discriminate based on sexual orientation should be subjected to heightened scrutiny—a more rigorous standard of constitutional review—Proposition 8 does not even pass the less strict, rational basis standard. That is so, the brief explains, because California has recognized that same-sex couples are similarly situated to different-sex couples when it comes to marriage’s purposes and that relegating same-sex couples to the inferior status of domestic partnerships stigmatizes and harms them and their families. The brief argues that because Prop 8 had no purpose or effect other than to mark same-sex couples and their relationships as inferior, it violates federal equal protection under even rational basis review.

Lambda Legal—along with GLAD and other civil and LGBT rights groups—has been fighting for decades for the freedom to marry—including the first historic victory in California in 2008.

Read the brief here.

Learn more about the Prop 8 case.