California Supreme Court Fails to Overturn Proposition 8

5/26/2009

California Supreme Court Fails to Overturn Proposition 8


New Ballot Campaign Needed to Restore the Freedom to Marry


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release: May 26, 2009
MEDIA CONTACT:
Evan Wolfson, Executive Director
212-851-8418
evan@freedomtomarry.org
Mobile: 646-263-5552

New York, May 26, 2009 —The California Supreme Court today let stand Proposition 8, continuing marriage discrimination in California.  The Court refused to undo the 18,000 marriages that same-sex couples celebrated in 2008, so that those couples remain married even while other California couples are, for now, barred from joining in marriage.

“The California Supreme Court today failed to uphold the core principle of American constitutional government that a simple majority may not selectively vote away a fundamental right from a minority targeted for invidious, suspect reasons,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry.  “It is now going to be up to the people of California to undo Prop 8's discriminatory misstep through a ballot-measure in 2012 or sooner.  The Prop 8 campaign is over; the campaign to restore the freedom to marry and remove this blemish on the constitution and cruel hardship on California's gay couples and their families is now underway.”  

As the groundwork for a new ballot initiative to restore the freedom to marry in California and overturn Proposition 8 begins, rallies and opportunities for people to voice their disapproval of this decision and get involved with efforts to overturn this discrimination will take place across the state of California and the entire country over the next week.

“We all must take our anger and frustration over this disappointing decision and focus on the conversations and renewed, constructive engagement and persuasion needed to restore the freedom to marry,” Wolfson said.  “The most important thing we can all do is talk with those around us about why marriage equality is important to us and help more states, including California, follow the good example of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, and the others that have ended exclusion from marriage.”

Freedom to Marry commends the leadership of National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the City and County of San Francisco, who represented six same-sex couples and Equality California in this case.    Thanks is also due to the array of civil rights groups and supportive organizations who filed amicus briefs in support of overturning Prop 8 including African-American, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific civil rights organizations; cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles; teachers and child-welfare professionals; religious leaders; businesses and labor unions; and advocates for same-sex couples and their families.

Despite today's flawed court ruling, momentum for the freedom to marry continues across the nation.  Since April, three more states—Iowa through court decision and Vermont and Maine through legislative action—have the freedom to marry, joining Massachusetts and Connecticut.

All eyes are now on New York, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, whose governors have pledged to sign the pending freedom to marry bills once they reach their desks.  New York's Assembly passed the marriage bill in May, and political leaders from across the state, including New York City's Independent/Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, have called on the State Senate to follow suit in the next few weeks.  New Hampshire’s Senate already approved the bill, but the House is still studying it in committee.

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Freedom to Marry is the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Launched in 2003, Freedom to Marry is headed by Evan Wolfson, nationally recognized as a central "architect of the marriage equality movement." Freedom to Marry guides and focuses this social justice movement on a nationwide level, serving as a strategy and support center for national, state, and local partners, a catalyst that drives and shapes the national debate on marriage equality, and an alliance-builder fostering support from non-gay allies.