California High Court to Hear Proposition 8 Challenge
Andrew Pugno, counsel for the ban’s supporters, told Reuters the challenge was a “long shot.” Overturning Proposition 8, he said, “would be a radical departure from 150 years of precedent,” he said.
But Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Reuters Proposititon 8 “mandates discrimination.”
“I really can’t imagine a more serious issue before the court, or a more frightening one,” Minter added.
No date has yet been set for the court to hear oral arguments, but according to Reuters, it could be before March.
According to the news service, what will be at issue before the court is, “the amendment process, the effect of Proposition 8 on same-sex marriages before the election, and on whether the amendment violated the state’s separation-of-powers doctrine.”
The ban, and the efforts of its supporters and opponents, garnered national attention in the weeks before and since Election Day. Since the ban was passed by a narrow margin on Nov. 4, protests have been held throughout California, and ban opponents have published “blacklists” of those who gave money in support of the ban and called for boycotts of those businesses.
Not all courts reacted with swift enthusiasm to the court’s decision. Kern County Clerk Ann Barnett made the decision to stop performing marriages altogether. She stated publicly that her office no longer had the resources to perform marriage, but her openly conservative leanings led most speculators to infer otherwise. One of her staff members revealed that Barnett expected to be sued for her decision.
Then, shortly after the Election Day defeat, it looked like California officials were devising ways to get the ban reversed, but the right approach was a delicate matter. Slate reported that legally filing for reversal can only happen on a federal level, which would bring the subject of gay marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States. That would likely take some years to accomplish. Meanwhile, there is concern about immediate fate of gay marriages in California.
It’s certain that no further gay marriages can be legally performed there until the ban is lifted, but there are 16,000 gay couples who have been married in California since the state Supreme Court initially overturned the ban. Such marriages might continue to exist, but be considered invalid by the state. Meanwhile, same-sex marriages previously solemnized in California would be viewed as valid in places like New York, where the law recognizes out-of-state gay marriages.
According to exit polls, 70 percent of black voters and more than 50 percent of Latino voters in California supported the gay marriage ban. The AP reports that these minority groups came out “in droves” to support Obama and may have provided the bulk of the votes in favor of Prop 8.
A blogger for the San Francisco Chronicle accuses Mayor Gavin Newsom of hurting, not helping, the campaign to stop Prop 8 from passing. Phil Bronstein suggests that Newsom’s ego was more important to him that working to gain support in the right areas. He opted to go to gay-friendly communities that were already settled on overturning the ban rather than try to sway voters in more anti-gay communities.