San Francisco – The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Equality California, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC) and Lambda Legal jointly filed an amicus brief on March 1 in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asking the court to lift the temporary stay in the federal court challenge to Proposition 8.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional in August 2010. However, that same month the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay, preventing same-sex couples from marrying while the case is on appeal. The brief argues that same-sex couples suffer irreparable harm as long as the stay is in effect.
On Jan. 4, 2011, the federal appeals court asked the California Supreme Court for guidance on an issue related to whether the sponsors of Prop 8 have standing to pursue an appeal. The California Supreme Court said on Feb. 16, 2011, that it would consider the question with oral arguments to be held "as early as September," meaning a decision likely would not come until the end of this year at the earliest.
"Each day that couples are prevented from marrying harms their families in countless ways," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. "The current legal challenge to Prop 8 could take months or years to resolve. The court should lift the stay and let all Californians exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to be treated as equal citizens and to choose whether to express their love and commitment through marriage."
Said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors: "Every day that Prop 8 remains in effect, same-sex couples and their families face gross inequality, stigma and are denied access to the security and dignity that other families enjoy. We cannot let tens of thousands of Californians suffer even one more day without the freedom and equality that is guaranteed to them by our nation's Constitution."
"It's well recognized that our government should not mistreat us, and that denial of basic constitutional rights inflicts irreparable harm. That is why our government is always supposed to err on the side of treating each of us as free and equal; it's the discrimination that should be 'stayed,' not civil rights," said Jennifer C. Pizer, Lambda Legal National Marriage Project Director. "The trial court saw that the backers of Prop 8 will suffer no loss of their freedom if the stay is lifted, but that thousands of California couples are harmed by being denied a chance to make the same commitment in marriage that others take for granted and treasure. Every day the stay remains in place cuts a little deeper as the state refuses to recognize their full equality and human worth. Everyone wins when everyone is treated equally."
Equality California is represented by Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, PC.
Amicus Brief (March 1, 2011)