Supreme Court hears arguments on Prop 8

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Today, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal Constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  The Court is considering whether Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental right of gay and lesbian Californians to marry.  On December 7, 2012, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Perry to review the landmark federal court of appeals ruling that upheld the decision of the federal district court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.  On February 28, 2013, the United States Government filed a brief as amicus curiae in support of the Plaintiffs challenging Proposition 8.

Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher presented argument on behalf of the Plaintiffs challenging Proposition 8.  Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. presented argument on behalf of the United States as amicus curiae in support of the Plaintiffs.  Charles J. Cooper of Cooper & Kirk presented argument on behalf of the Proponents of Proposition 8.

“This case is about marriage and equality.  The Plaintiffs we represent are two loving couples who, like millions of other gay and lesbian Americans, are being denied the fundamental right to marry and the right to be treated with equal dignity and respect under the law,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson, who served as Solicitor General from 2001 to 2004.  “This discrimination 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 our Constitution.  The day it is ended, we will be closer to fulfilling the dream of all Americans.”

“Fourteen times the Supreme Court has stated that the freedom to marry is one of the most fundamental rights — if not the most fundamental right — of all Americans,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner.  “The denial of the right to marry causes grave harm to gay and lesbian Americans and the children they are raising.  It serves no legitimate state interest.  As full and equal citizens under our Constitution, gay and lesbian Americans cannot be denied the basic, fundamental freedom to marry.”

“Our Plaintiffs — Kris and Sandy, and Paul and Jeff — like millions of other gay and lesbian Americans, are asking for the government to honor their fundamental right to marry and to treat them with equal dignity and respect under the law,” said Adam Umhoefer, executive director at the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry.  “We are proud of the powerful and compelling constitutionally-based argument for marriage equality we made before the Supreme Court today, and look forward to the day when, very soon, our great nation’s promise of liberty and equality will be realized for all Americans.”

Oral argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry was attended by, among others, Plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo; and AFER Board President Bruce Cohen and AFER Board Members Dustin Lance Black, Chad Griffin, Jonathan Lewis, Ken Mehlman, and Rob and Michele Reiner.

“Today is a monumental day, not just for Sandy and me, but for the millions of other Americans across the country who have waited for years for the Supreme Court to consider whether they too should enjoy the right to marry,” said Plaintiff Kris Perry. “Witnessing today’s proceedings gives me hope that our four sons, and kids across America, will soon live in a country where love and equality prevail.”

“Today’s oral argument before the Supreme Court marks the start of the final chapter of our four-year journey toward equality,” said Plaintiff Paul Katami.  “The argument advanced by our incredible legal team to the nine Justices is clear and unequivocal: equal justice under law means equal justice for all.  We are confident that one day, very soon, this core American value will be realized and Proposition 8 and laws like it throughout the nation will be eliminated.”

In addition to the brief submitted by the United States Government, more than 50 briefs of amici curiae were filed in support of the Plaintiffs challenging Proposition 8.  Amici include 131 prominent Republican leaders, 100 American companies, leaders of religious and faith groups, the State of California and thirteen other states, and family and children’s rights organizations.

A decision from the Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry is expected by the end of June 2013.


Listen to the audio from the hearing:

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