Wednesday, February 4, 2009

California Supreme Court Accepts Oral Arguments in Prop 8 Case

February 3, 2009

Media Contact:
Calla Devlin Communications Director
415.392.6257 x324
Mobile: 415.205.2420


Attorney General, Governor, and nation's top civil rights groups agree:
Invalidate Prop 8

(San Francisco, CA, February 3, 2009) The California Supreme Court
announced today that it will hear oral arguments on Thursday, March 5, 2009
in the Proposition 8 legal challenge. The National Center for Lesbian Rights,
Lambda Legal, and the ACLU—with support from civil rights groups, religious
organizations, labor unions, and legal scholars—argue that Proposition 8 is
invalid because the people of California have established strict safeguards
that prohibit the underlying principles of the California Constitution from being
changed by a simple majority vote. By taking away a right only from one
group, Proposition 8 violates the most basic principle of our government:
that all people are entitled to equal treatment under the law.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown is also asking the Court to invalidate
Proposition 8 on the ground that certain fundamental rights, including the
right to marry, are inalienable and can not be put up for a popular vote.
On November 10, 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that he
hoped the Court would overturn Proposition 8. On CNN, he said of Proposition
8's passage, "It's unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end, I think that we
will again maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move
forward from there and again lead in that area."
On November 19, 2008, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear the legal
challenges to Proposition 8 and set an expedited schedule. Briefing in the
case was completed on January 21, 2009.
The California Supreme Court must issue its decisions within 90 days of oral
On January 15, 2009, 43 friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Court to
invalidate Prop 8 were filed, arguing that Proposition 8 drastically alters the
equal protection guarantee in California's Constitution and that the rights of a
minority cannot be eliminated by a simple majority vote. The supporters
represent the full gamut of California's and the nation's civil rights
organizations and legal scholars, as well as California legislators, local
governments, bar associations, business interests, labor unions, and religious

In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court held that laws that treat people
differently based on their sexual orientation violate the equal protection
clause of the California Constitution and that same-sex couples have the
same fundamental right to marry as other Californians. Proposition 8
eliminated this fundamental right only for same-sex couples. No other
initiative has ever successfully changed the California Constitution to take
away a right only from a targeted minority group. Proposition 8 passed by a
bare majority of 52 percent on November 4.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU filed this
challenge on November 5, representing Equality California, whose members
include many same-sex couples who married between June 16 and November
4, 2008, and six same-sex couples who want to marry in California. The
California Supreme Court has also agreed to hear two other challenges filed
on the same day: one filed by the City and County of San Francisco (joined
by Santa Clara County and the City of Los Angeles, and subsequently by Los
Angeles County and other local governments); and another filed by a private

Serving as co-counsel on the case with NCLR, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU
are the Law Office of David C. Codell, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and Orrick,
Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

The case is Strauss et al. v. Horton et al. (#S168047). For more information,
go to:


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.

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