Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lawsuits to challenge California gay marriage ban

Published: Thursday November 6, 2008
California's vote to ban same-sex marriages in a referendum will be contested by activists and city officials who have lodged multiple legal challenges to the ballot, officials said Thursday.
In a stunning result, voters approved a proposal added to ballot papers in Tuesday's presidential election which amended the state constitution to say that only marriages between men and women are recognized in California.
Voters approved the constitutional amendment by a margin of 52.5 to 47.5 percent, according to near-complete results.
The decision came only six months after California's Supreme Court overturned a previous ban on same-sex marriage, paving the way for thousands of gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot in the state.
However opponents of same-sex marriage successfully gathered enough support for an amendment to be added to the November 4 election which sought to override the California Supreme Court decision.
Now activists and city officials in Los Angeles and San Francisco are vowing to return to the California Supreme Court, arguing that the vote -- known as "Proposition 8" -- represented a sweeping revision of the constitution and was more far-reaching than a simple amendment.
"A major purpose of the constitution is to protect minorities from majorities," said Elizabeth Gill, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the rights groups fighting the ban.
"Because changing that principle is a fundamental change to the organizing principles of the constitution itself, only the legislature can initiate such revisions to the constitution."
Challenges have been filed by the ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal while San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Clara have sued in a joint bid.
"Equal protection of the laws is not merely the cornerstone of the California Constitution, it is what separates constitutional democracy from mob rule tyranny," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement.
Another lawsuit has been filed by Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred on behalf of the lesbian couple whose legal fight initially led to May's Supreme Court decision to overturn a previous ban.
The marriage ban sparked angry protests in California on Wednesday, with thousands taking to the streets in Los Angeles to condemn the ban.
Angry crowds thronged the streets in central West Hollywood, the heart of Los Angeles' gay community, chanting slogans and waving signs.
The legal status of thousands of same-sex couples who have wed since June remains unclear although state officials have insisted that the marriages will remain valid.
This story can be found at the


Greg Sebourn said...

"Equal protection of the laws is not merely the cornerstone of the California Constitution, it is what separates constitutional democracy from mob rule tyranny," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement.

That's funny that he used the term "mob rule" because I just saw video showing the gays and lesbians rioting in S.F. and West Hollywood.

That article is full of misleading information. As I recall, isn't there some Act that was passed a couple of years back that said gays and lesbians are ENTITLED to the same privileges as heterosexual couples? I know that all of my insurance benefits and retirement benefits have labels like Party "A" and Party "B" instead of spouse.

With the constitution amended, who do you sew? We, The People who amended the document? Try to get a judge to suspend part of the constitution? What's to stop a judge from suspending any other or all parts of the constitution? I thought that the only way the constitution could be amended was by a vote of the citizens... Is that incorrect?

Tom Sebourn said...

It used to take a 3 thirds majority to amend the constitution. I'm not sure when that changed but I suspect it was a ballot proposition that made this so. Judges don't make constitutional law, they decide whether or not the law is valid. Only judges have this power.
I think that the state legislators can amend the state constitution but I'm not sure of this. I know that for congress to call a constitutional convention they need 3 fourths of the states to ratify it.
What happened on November 4th in California removed the word Republic from our flag. In a republic, a simple majority cannot take rights away from the minority.
Welcome to the type of government that the U.S. has been forcing down the throats of other countries under the Bush administration. In a democracy, 51 people can decide that the other 49 have to do what they say. Mob Rule Dude!

Greg Sebourn said...

That all sounds like a very democratic processes whereas each voice is given equal weight and value. And each person's vote is counted equally with each other's.

The entire premise of a democratic process is one of majority rule. That's why there are three branches of government with a bipartisan Supreme Court.