Lambda Legal Salutes Historic Ninth Circuit Decision Declaring Prop 8 Unconstitutional

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“The tide is not turning; it has turned.”
February 7, 2012

"This ruling foreshadows the ultimate fate of other states in the Ninth Circuit that refuse to recognize the equal dignity of same-sex couples and their families by shunting them off into second-class statuses."

(San Francisco, February 7, 2012) – The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld the historic August 2010 ruling by now-retired U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Lambda Legal’s Legal Director Jon Davidson issued the following statement:

“This ruling foreshadows the ultimate fate of other states in the Ninth Circuit like Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Hawaii that refuse to recognize the equal dignity of same-sex couples and their families by shunting them off into second-class statuses like domestic partnerships or civil unions. The tide is not turning; it has turned; and we are glad to see the Ninth Circuit join the right side of history.”

“This is an exciting day for all of us, and especially for those of us at Lambda Legal who have been fighting for marriage equality for decades, from our efforts in Hawaii almost 20 years ago to our victories before the California Supreme Court in 2008 and the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009, to our ongoing lawsuit in New Jersey. It is inevitable that marriage equality will be won across the nation through either the legislative or judicial processes.”

"The Court has also rejected the desperate and insulting effort by Prop 8 proponents to vacate Judge Walker’s ruling by arguing that his sexual orientation and long-term same-sex relationship rendered him incapable of interpreting the law or upholding his sworn duty to rule impartially.”

“Same-sex couples in California are one step closer to the long-awaited day when this terrible discrimination against them and their families is over and they can, once again, exercise the right to marry and be treated equally under the law. We congratulate the plaintiffs and their legal team for achieving this momentous victory.”

In a series of rulings today, the Ninth Circuit:

  • affirmed Judge Walker’s original ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional;
  • determined that the Prop 8 proponents had the ability to defend the discriminatory statute after California state officials had declined to appeal Judge Walker’s ruling invalidating it; and
  • upheld a ruling by U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware denying Prop 8 proponents’ motion to invalidate Judge Walker’s original decision because he is gay and in a long-term relationship with a man and therefore supposedly should have declined to hear the case.

Read the ruling.

Lambda Legal joined with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union for Northern California, and Equality California in filing friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Ninth Circuit to uphold both Judge Walker’s ruling striking down Prop 8 and Judge Ware’s denial of the Proponent’s attempt to vacate that ruling. Lambda Legal and its partners also joined in a friend-of-the-court brief before the California Supreme Court arguing that Prop 8 proponents lack standing to defend the statute in the appeal. The case is Perry v. Brown. The plaintiffs are represented by the law firms of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Boies, Schiller, & Flexner and the plaintiff-intervenor is represented by the San Francisco City Attorney’s office.



Contact Info

Press contact: Tom Warnke, Email: 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.