Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Human Rights: California Attorney General Asks U.S. Court of Appeals to Allow Marriages for Gay and Lesbian Couples to Resume

Attorney General Kamala Harris, California's chief law enforcement official, announced that her office has filed a brief on behalf of the state of California with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The filing asks that the stay on the U.S. District Court ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger—which more than six months ago declared Prop. 8 unconstitutional—be lifted immediately and that gay and lesbians couples in California be once again allowed to marry.

"For 846 days, Proposition 8 has denied equality under the law to gay and lesbian couples," Attorney General Harris writes. "Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law. Each one of those days, loved ones have been lost, moments have been missed, and justice has been denied."

Last week, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and its legal team – led by Theodore B. Olson and David Boies – filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit, asking that the Court immediately allow the U.S. District Court ruling to go into effect.

"Attorney General Harris makes it clear in her filing: marriages for gay and lesbian Californians must resume now," said AFER Board President Chad Griffin. "Life is not eternal—sometimes it is tragically short—and courts should not act as if it were otherwise. Allowing the U.S. District Court's landmark decision to enter into effect will not harm anyone, but will alleviate the suffering of countless families and their children. We're grateful for the Attorney General's forceful stand for civil rights."

Read Attorney General Kamala Harris' filing: Motion To Vacate Stay

Major equal rights organizations also announced today they have filed or will file briefs with the Ninth Circuit in support of AFER's request, including Courage Campaign, Equality California, Human Rights Campaign, ACLU of Northern California, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights and the City and County of San Francisco.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote a strongly worded editorial calling on the Ninth Circuit to lift the stay on marriage for gay and lesbian couples in California. Read the editorial here.


In August 2010, the U.S. District Court declared Proposition 8 – which eliminated marriage rights for same-sex couples – unconstitutional and "gravely harmful" and ordered the State to cease all enforcement of it. The Ninth Circuit, however, has stayed that injunction for the duration of the appeal before that Court, depriving tens of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians of their fundamental constitutional right to marry.

AFER's most recent filing: Motion to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to Vacate Stay

"We are respectfully asking the Court to lift its stay on marriage for gay and lesbian couples because it has become apparent that the legal process is taking considerably longer than could reasonably have been anticipated," said Theodore B. Olson, co-lead counsel for AFER. "It's important to remember that the stay was originally ordered with the understanding that the Ninth Circuit would rule swiftly on the case before it. Now that the issue of the Proponents' standing to appeal has been referred for analysis by the California Supreme Court, substantial additional, indefinite and unanticipated delays lie ahead. It's unreasonable and decidedly unjust to expect California's gay and lesbian couples to put their lives on hold and suffer daily discrimination as second class citizens while their U.S. District Court victory is debated further."

About the American Foundation for Equal Rights

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of the Perry case. After bringing together Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through federal district court and is now leading it through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before the case is brought to the United States Supreme Court. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality.

Source: American Foundation for Equal Rights