The California Attorney General, Equality California, and the nation’s leading LGBT legal groups agree that the marriages of the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June 16, 2008 and the possible passage of Proposition 8 are still valid in the state of California and must continue to be honored by the state.
As Attorney General Jerry Brown has stated in previous court papers and as he reaffirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle, those marriages should remain valid notwithstanding Proposition 8’s possible passage. On August 5, 2008, Brown told the Chronicle, “I believe that marriages that have been entered into subsequent to the May 15 Supreme Court opinion will be recognized by the California Supreme Court,’ He noted that Proposition is silent about retroactivity, and said, ‘I would think the court, in looking at the underlying equities, would most probably conclude that upholding the marriages performed in that interval before the election would be a just result.’”
There is absolutely nothing in the language of Proposition 8 to suggest that the initiative would apply to couples who have already legally married. Unless the language of an initiative specifically says that it is to be applied retroactively, California’s courts have been very reluctant to do so, especially when the newly passed measure is in such stark conflict with existing constitutional provisions.
Although it is extremely unlikely that California courts would apply the initiative retroactively, the proponents of Proposition 8 may file a legal challenge trying to invalidate the marriages of those who married before Proposition 8 possibly passed. The LGBT legal groups remain committed to ensuring that all the couples who married in California continue to receive the legal protections and to have their marriages respected as required under California law and will vigorously fight any attempts to take rights away from couples and families.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.www.nclrights.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. www.lambdalegal.org
The American Civil Liberties Union is America’s foremost advocate of individual rights. It fights discrimination and moves public opinion on LGBT rights through the courts, legislatures and public education. www.aclu.org
Equality California Founded in 1998, Equality California celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008, commemorating a decade of building a state of equality in California. EQCA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.www.eqca.org