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Entries in Prop 8 (16)

Friday
Dec072012

US Supreme Court to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court Friday decided to take up two major cases regarding gay marriage, one of which could ultimately lead the court to decide whether there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

The justices announced that the court would hear a challenge to Proposition 8, the controversial California ballot initiative that passed in 2008 that restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples, as well as a challenge to a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Check Out Same-Sex Marriage Status in the U.S. State By State

A divided three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down "Prop 8" in February, ruling that it "serves no purpose , and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."

It was a narrow ruling, specific to California and its history with Prop 8. The court did not reach the broader question of whether there was a fundamental right to gay marriage.

Supporters of Prop 8 are asking the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of that ruling. Gay marriages have been put on hold in California until the Supreme Court decides the issue. The cases will likely be argued in March.

Opponents of Prop 8 are represented by David Boies and Theodore Olson, two lawyers who argued on opposite sides in the historic Bush v. Gore case that resulted in Bush's election as president.

They contend in court briefs that the question about whether the states might discriminate against gay men and lesbians in the provision of marriage licenses could be the "defining civil rights issue of our time."

The court will also hear a challenge to a key section of a federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. At issue in this case is not whether there is a fundamental right to gay marriage, because the same-sex couples are legally married in states that allow gay marriage, but that the gay couples alone are denied federal benefits such as the Social Security survivor assistance.

Recent ABC News-Washington Post polls say that 51 percent of Americans support gay marriage, which is legal in nine states and the District of Columbia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

Supreme Court Will Likely Be Finally Arbiter on California's Prop 8

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The hot button issue of same-sex marriage is headed to the Supreme Court.

After the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last spring struck down California's Proposition 8, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, its proponents vowed to take the matter to the high court.

It happened Tuesday as Prop 8's sponsor, Protect Marriage, formally asked the Supreme Court to reject the two-to-one decision.  Attorney Andy Pugno said it shouldn't have been left to the appeals court to overturn the November 2008 vote approved by California voters.

Pugno told reporters, "We hope the court will take this case and take a good sober look at whether or not the Constitution requires same-sex marriage or whether this is something that the people in each state get to decide for themselves."

As it happens, the high court might get to determine the legality of same-sex marriages on state and federal levels by ruling on both Prop 8 and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which the Obama administration has decided to no longer defend.

Gays and lesbians were allowed to marry in California briefly in 2008 and their unions are still considered legal.

However, the current ban is still in effect until the Supreme Court rules on the final appeal, probably before this time next year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun052012

Prop 8 Headed to the Supreme Court

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A federal appeals court in California has denied a petition to have Prop 8—the 2008 California ballot initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman—further reviewed by a larger panel of judges.  Tuesday’s filing means that the case is headed to the Supreme Court of the United States.  

In February, the majority of a three judge panel sitting on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Prop 8 ruling that the initiative “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.” The court ruled on narrow grounds specific to California and Proposition 8. It did not find a fundamental right of same sex couples to marry.

Supporters of Prop 8 had asked for “en banc” review of the case, which would have meant that the Chief Judge of the circuit along with 10 randomly selected judges would have mooted their colleagues’ decision and started anew. But in a filing Tuesday the court said that a majority of judges had voted to deny the petition.

The court stayed the three judge ruling pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“Today’s order is yet another federal court victory for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in California and around the nation,” said Chad Griffin, the Co-founder of The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group that brought the challenge to Prop 8.

“This is a great step forward towards the day when everyone will be able to marry the person they love” said AFER attorney David Boies.

Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponents of Prop 8, said his group will appeal the case to the Supreme Court. “Perhaps the most positive news from today’s decision is that the court has stayed the decision up to and including the time that the United States Supreme Court finally decides this case. We will promptly file our appeal to the nation’s highest court and look forward to a positive outcome on behalf of the millions of Californians who believe in traditional marriage,” Pugno said in a statement.

Three 9th Circuit judges -- Carlos T. Bea, Jay S. Bybee and Diarmuid Fionntain O’Scannlain -- wrote separately Tuesday arguing that a larger panel of the court should have taken  up the case. In their dissent, the judges referenced President Obama’s recent interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts in which he said he personally supports same sex marriage.

“A few weeks ago, subsequent to oral argument in this case, the President of the United States ignited a media firestorm by announcing that he supports same sex marriage as a policy matter. Drawing less attention, however, were his comments that the Constitution left this matter to the States and that one of the things that he’d like to see is 'that the conversation continue in a respectful way.’ Today our court has silenced any such respectful conversation.”

Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Michael Daly Hawkins, who authored the three judge panel decision, wrote separately to address the dissent. “We are puzzled by our dissenting colleagues’ unusual reliance on the President’s views regarding the Constitution, especially as the President did not discuss the narrow issue that we decided in our opinion,” they wrote. They stressed that in their opinion they had ruled narrowly that under the particular circumstances relating to California’s Prop 8, the measure was invalid.

“We did not resolve the fundamental question that both sides asked us to: whether the Constitution prohibits the states from banning same-sex marriage. That question may be decided in the near future, but if so, it should be in some other case, at some other time,” they said.

Tuesday’s ruling comes a week after a federal appeals court in Boston struck down a key provision of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In that case, legally married same sex couples argue that the federal government is denying them benefits available to opposite sex couples.

The Supreme Court will most likely consider both the PROP 8 case and the DOMA cases next term.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb082012

First Same-Sex Couple Married in California Getting Divorced

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- An interesting sign of the times: the lesbian couple whose legal struggle helped pave the way for gay marriage in California is getting divorced.

Robin Tyler and Diane Olson were the original plaintiffs in the California Supreme Court case (argued by attorney Gloria Allred) that opened the doors to lesbian and gay marriage in the nation’s most populous state. They appeared in an interview with Allred for ABC News.

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In June 2008, Tyler and Olson were the first same-sex couple to wed in Los Angeles County.

During the campaign over Proposition 8 -- the voter-approved initiative that ultimately overturned the court’s decision and banned gay marriage -- Olson and Tyler appeared in campaign ads asking the voters to not “take our marriage away.”

But now their marriage is apparently on the rocks. While they have plenty of company -- in Southern California, 75 percent of all marriages end in divorce -- the timing is kind of awkward. A federal appeals court in California on Tuesday struck down Proposition 8, the controversial ballot measure, passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote, that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb072012

Appeals Court Declares California's Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A federal appeals court in California on Tuesday struck down Proposition 8, the controversial ballot measure passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

About 18,ooo same sex couples had obtained marriage licenses in the state before the ballot initiative was passed.

Prop 8 “amounts to a distinct constitutional violation because the Equal Protection Clause protects minority groups from being targeted for the deprivation of an existing right without legitimate reason,” the court said.

“By using their initiative power to target a minority group and withdraw a right that it possessed, without a legitimate reason for doing so, the People of California violated the Equal Protection Clause.”

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Judge Steven Reinhardt, writing for the majority, said the court had decided the issue on the “narrowest grounds.”

“We do not doubt the importance of the more general questions presented to us concerning the rights of same-sex couples to marry, nor do we doubt that these questions will likely be resolved in other states, and for the nation as a whole, by other courts,” he wrote. “For now, it suffices to conclude that the People of California may not, consistent with the Federal Constitution, add to their state Constitution a provision that has no more practical effect than to strip gays and lesbians of their right to use the official designation that the State and society give to committed relationships, thereby adversely affecting the status and dignity of the members of a disfavored class.”

The narrow ruling, specific to California, means the case is less likely to reach the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb072012

Appeals Court to Rule on California's Prop 8

Jupiterimages/ThinkstockUPDATE: A federal appeals court in California struck down Proposition 8 on Tuesday, the controversial ballot measure passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- In the months leading up to the passage of Proposition 8 -- the controversial 2008 California ballot initiative that bans gay marriage -- some 18,000 same sex couples obtained marriage licenses.

The marriages came to a screeching halt when Prop 8 was passed with 52 percent of the vote.

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court is poised to rule on the measure. Prop 8 supporters says they are fighting for the traditional definition of marriage. Opponents argue that Prop 8 violates constitutional rights.

In 2010 U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker struck down Proposition 8, ruling that it “both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”

Tuesday, before reaching the constitutional question, the panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will have to decide whether to vacate Walker’s decision because he failed to disclose at the time of the Prop 8 trial that he had been involved in a long term same sex relationship, although he was not married. Supporters of Prop 8 argue Walker had a vested interest in the outcome of the case.

The court will also decide whether the supporters of Prop 8 have the legal right to defend the law in court after California’s public officials declined to do so. If the court finds that the supporters of Prop 8 have the necessary “standing,” the court will then decide whether it is constitutional.

Currently six states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same sex couples: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb022012

Federal Court Blocks Release of Videotapes of 2010 Prop 8 Trial

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court in California has ruled that videotapes of the 2010 trial regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 8 will not be released to the public. After the trial, a District Court judge struck down the California voter initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The panel of judges for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court “abused its discretion” by ordering the unsealing of the recording of the trial after the trial judge -- former Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California -- had told the parties involved that the recording would not be publicly broadcast.

“The trial judge on several occasions unequivocally promised that the recording of the trial would be used only in chambers and not publicly broadcast,” the Court said.

After the trial, opponents of Prop 8 had asked that the videotapes be made publically available. Supporters of the initiative argued against public release.

The appeals court judges – Stephen Reinhardt, Michael Daly Hawkins and N.R. Smith – emphasized that their ruling was unique to the circumstances surrounding the creation and sealing of the recording in the trial. They said the decision does not address policy questions regarding whether courts should allow cameras in court and it has “nothing to do with the freedom of the press to publish, describe or comment on any information to which it obtains access.”

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., an attorney representing opponents to Prop 8, released a statement after the decision, saying, “It speaks volumes that the proponents of Proposition 8 are so insistent about concealing the videotaped record of this historic trial. They know the videotape would expose their baseless campaign of fear and let the public see the powerful evidence we submitted showing that Proposition 8 flatly violates the United States Constitution. ”

Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponents of Proposition 8, issued a statement praising the ruling. His group had been extremely critical of the use of the videotapes by Judge Walker after the trial was concluded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov172011

California Supreme Court Rules Prop 8 Sponsors Can Continue Case

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that sponsors of Proposition 8 have the legal right to defend the controversial ballot initiative in federal court.

In August of 2010 a district court struck down Prop 8 -- the California voter initiative passed in 2008 that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.  Because California’s Governor and its Attorney General declined to defend the law in federal court, Prop 8′s sponsors stepped forward to do so.  A federal appeals court took up the case, but put it on hold in order to ask the state’s highest court whether the sponsors have the legal right to bring the case.

Thursday’s decision is an advisory opinion that will be sent to the federal appeals court. That court will then take the ruling under consideration and determine on its own whether it thinks the supporters have the legal standing to bring the case.

“The California Supreme Court’s decision punts the ball right back to the Ninth Circuit, which will now have to decide whether Prop. 8′s proponents may go forward as a matter of federal law, and, if so, whether the district court was right to strike down California’s ban on gay marriage,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, Professor of law at American University. “The Ninth Circuit may have been looking for a way out of deciding this case, but the California Supreme Court refused to give them one”

The National Organization for Marriage, a group that supports Prop 8, issued this statement.:

“It has been nothing short of shameful to see Governor Jerry Brown, his predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Kamala Harris abdicate their constitutional responsibility to defend Proposition 8 in Court,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president.  “Although today’s ruling from the California Supreme Court confirms that the proponents of Prop 8 have the right to defend their initiative when the state officials refuse to fulfill their sworn duty, it is gratifying to know that the over 7 million Californians who supported the initiative will have a vigorous defense of their decision in our federal courts.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov172011

California Supreme Court to Issue Prop 8 Decision

Jupiterimages/ThinkstockUPDATE: The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that sponsors of Proposition 8 have the legal right to defend the controversial ballot initiative in federal court.

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The California Supreme Court will issue its opinion Thursday on whether the sponsors of Proposition 8 have the legal right to defend the controversial ballot initiative in federal court.

In August 2010 a district court judge struck down the initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Because California’s governor and its attorney general declined to defend the law, its sponsors stepped forward to appeal the ruling.

But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals put the case on hold in order to ask the state’s highest court whether the sponsors had the legal right -- or “standing” -- to bring the challenge.

The decision Thursday will not be the final word on the standing issue. It will be sent to the appeals court which will then issue its own opinion in the weeks to come.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

Federal Judge Unseals Digital Recordings of Prop 8 Trial

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A federal Judge in California has unsealed the digital recordings of the Prop 8 trial in California held in 2010.

Defenders of Prop 8 did not want the tapes released in part because they believed that it would have a “chilling effect” on expert witnesses who testified about the controversial ballot measure that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.  Transcripts of the court proceedings had been publicly available.

At the trial, Judge Vaughn Walker, who has since retired, ordered the digital recording, but did not release the tapes.  The judge later struck down Prop 8, and the ruling is currently on appeal.

In ordering the release of the digital recordings, Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said,  “Foremost among the aspects of the federal judicial system that foster public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the process are public access to trials and public access to the record of judicial proceedings.”

Ware noted that there had to be “compelling reasons” for keeping such a record of judicial proceedings secret.  His decision is stayed for Sept. 30 to give parties a chance to appeal.

Chad Griffin, the board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), a group challenging Prop 8, released a statement praising the decision: “This is a significant victory for the American people, who will soon be able to see the evidence put forward by both sides in this historic federal trial.”

AFER could not have asked for better timing of the judge’s order.  Monday night the group held a fundraiser in New York with Hollywood actors reading parts of the transcript on stage.  The “cast” includes Ellen Barkin, Anthony Edwards, Morgan Freeman, Cheyenne Jackson, Christine Lahti, John Lithgow, Rob Reiner, Yeardley Smith and Bradley Whitford.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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