AFER attorneys file briefs asking Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8
February 21, 2013
Today, the attorneys for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, AFER, filed a brief in their Hollingsworth v. Perry case asking the United States Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8 and restore the freedom to marry in California.
It's been a long journey for opponents of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that anti-gay activists succeeded in pushing through in November 2008 to strip same-sex couples of the freedom to marry in California. Just five months before the 2008 election, the California Supreme Court ruled that excluding same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional, allowing committed couples across the state to share in the joys and protections of marriage.
For four years, AFER and other opponents of Proposition 8 have relentlessly spoken out against the anti-gay ballot measure and advanced their case through the California district and regional court systems. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear the Proposition 8 case in addition to a legal challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
The brief that AFER's attorneys - Ted Olson and David Boies - wonderfully seeks to move marriage forward in California and nationwide. The brilliantly worded document explains why marriage matters and why Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Here's a key excerpt:
The only substantive question in this case is whether the State is entitled to exclude gay men and lesbians from the institution of marriage and deprive their relationships - their love - of the respect, and dignity and social acceptance, that heterosexual marriages enjoy. Proponents have not once set forth any justification for discriminating against gay men and lesbians by depriving them of this fundamental civil right. They have never identified a single harm that they, or anyone else, would suffer as a result of allowing gay men and lesbians to marry. Indeed, the only harms demonstrated in this record are the debilitating consequences Proposition 8 inflicts upon thens of thousands of California families, and the pain and indignity that discriminatory law causes the nearly 40,000 California children currently being raised by same-sex couples. [...]
Because of their sexual orientation - a characteristic with which they were born and which they cannot change - Plaintiffs and hundreds of thousands of gay men and lesbians in California and across the country are being excluded from one of life's most precious relationships. They may not marry the person they love, the person with whom they wish to partner in building a family and with whom they wish to share their future and their most intimate and private dreams. Although opening to them participation in the unique and immensely valuable institution of marriage will not diminish the value or status of marriage for heterosexuals, withholding it causes infinite and permanent stigma, pain and isolation. It denies gay men and lesbians their identity and their dignity; it labels their families as second-rate. That outcome cannot be squared with the principle of equality and the unalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that is the bedrock promise of America from the Declaration of Independence to the Fourteenth Amendment, and the dream of all Americans. This badge of inferiority, serpateness, and inequality must be extinguished. When it is, America will be closer to fulfilling the aspirations of all its citizens.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry on March 26. A decision is expected in the case by late June 2013.