Tag: Prop 8
After a long and winding road, Proposition 8 had its day at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. For more than an hour, the justices of the high court grilled attorneys on California’s same-sex marriage ban.
The oral arguments were dominated by the question of standing, which focused on whether the authors of Prop. 8 have the legal right to defend the measure in court when the state refused to do so. Justices also grappled over the meaning of marriage and what role the court system should have in changing long-held traditions.
The questions that justices ask can shed light on their concerns and how they might rule. KQED spoke with Vikram Amar, a professor of law at UC Davis, about what certain arguments could mean.
Amar: I thought there were three, maybe four, maybe five justices already who expressed significant skepticism about whether the sponsors have standing to defend Prop. 8.
Listen to the oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8 at the Supreme Court this morning.
Read the transcript:
Read all the of the case filings in the Proposition 8 and DOMA cases.
When Theodore Boutrous, Jr. hopped on the phone the other day from Washington, he was giddy. “We just got a unanimous ruling at the Supreme Court!” He was referring to the 9-0 decision on behalf of his client, an insurance company fighting a class action case.
I asked Boutrous, who goes by “Ted”, how many times he’s argued in front of the Supreme Court. “Twice, “ he said. “And I’ve got 18 votes!” When I suggested he should retire while he has a perfect record, he emailed back “It’s tempting!”
Since the start of the Prop. 8 debate in federal court four years ago, Boutrous has been overshadowed by his high profile colleague, attorney Theodore Olson. Both are partners at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (Boutrous in the Los Angeles office, Olson in D.C.) and have worked together for nearly 30 years. Olson is renowned in legal circles as a leading conservative, which makes his pairing with David Boies (whom he faced on opposite sides of the Bush v. Gore case in 2000) so interesting.
Boutrous may not get the “ink” they get, but he’s been an integral part of the legal strategy against Prop. 8.
Andy Pugno, a co-author of Proposition 8 and general counsel at ProtectMarriage.com, is part of the legal team defending the same-sex marriage ban at the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday.
Pugno discusses with KQED’s Scott Shafer the major themes of their legal argument as well as what changing public opinion means for the case.
Even though prominent Republicans, Fortune 500 companies and the public is becoming more accepting of same-sex marriage, Pugno said he thinks it will not have much of an effect on the justices.
“I think the justices are accustomed to avoiding being sucked into a political debate,” Pugno said. “I think they’ll be mindful of their limited role as judges to interpret existing law, not to make new law.”
To us non lawyers it looks pretty simple: either gay people can legally marry each other or they can’t.
But as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on California’s Proposition 8, the justices will weigh multiple options. Some decisions would settle the question throughout the country for the foreseeable future. Some could leave it dangling for years to come.
The high court will hear arguments on the case on Tuesday, with a decision expected in June.
To start with, the court isn’t just taking on Prop. 8, the California constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage. It’s also tackling the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that denies federal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. The court will hear arguments on the DOMA on Wednesday. And the two decisions are intertwined.
On Valentine’s Day last month, about a dozen gay and lesbian couples showed up at San Francisco City Hall. They wanted something they knew they couldn’t have: A marriage license.
The protest, organized by Marriage Equality USA, happens every year. And every year the couples are turned away.
Thom Watson from Daly City came with his partner.
“You’re really never fully prepared for what it’s going to feel like yet again to be turned down for something that you want so badly and that other people take for granted,” Watson said.
The right to get that legal document from a county clerk is what Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing is all about: whether California’s Proposition 8 — a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman — violates equal protection under the law guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
You might say the long journey of Proposition 8 began May 15, 2008, when a ruling came down from the California Supreme Court declaring that gay and lesbian couples had a legal right to get married.
Mayor Gavin Newsom celebrated at City Hall with a crowd of thrilled San Franciscans, “This door’s wide open now. It’s gonna happen whether you like it or not. This is the future, and it’s now.”
It was a historic ruling, but not a done deal.
The ruling infuriated supporters of traditional marriage, including Randy Thomasson, with Protect Marriage.
“It will spur Californians to go to the polls to override the judges and protect marriage licenses for one man and one woman in the California constitution,” Thomasson said.
As San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom made headlines worldwide when he ordered the city clerk’s office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Between Feb. 12 and March 11, 2004, nearly 4,000 same-sex couples got married at City Hall despite a state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
Now, Newsom discusses why he gave the order and how reaction in the LGBT community was not all positive. He also revisits his notorious “whether you like it or not” line, which he concedes gave opponents of same-sex marriage measure a powerful weapon in their 2008 campaign for Proposition 8.
In California’s June 2000 primary, 61 percent of the electorate voted “yes” on Proposition 22, a measure that amended state law to read, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized ” in the state. The state Supreme Court overturned the law in 2008 as discriminatory, opening the way for same-sex couples to get legally married in the state. About 18,000 gay and lesbian couples took advantage of the chance to tie the knot.
But the door that had been opened to same-sex couples slammed shut in November 2008, when voters passed Proposition 8. The measure, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, passed with 52 percent of the vote.
Gay-marriage advocates immediately filed challenges with the California Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case, and in May 2009, the court upheld Prop. 8, another blow against same-sex marriage.