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BREAKING NEWS: Supreme Court to decide on Prop 8/DOMA cases in late November

(Editor's note: On Nov. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court changed the date listed below. To read the latest story, click HERE.)

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court this morning indicated that it will consider whether to grant review in Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Brown), the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8.

The Perry case, along with several cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), will be considered at the justices' private conference scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry. DOMA, which was enacted by Congress in 1996, nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law.

"For far too long, gay and lesbian couples in California have been waiting to exercise the fundamental freedom to marry that the United States Constitution already tells them they have," said Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the sole sponsor of the Perry case.

"With the distribution of our case for the Court's consideration, we move one step closer to the day when the nation will be able to live up to the promise of liberty and equality enshrined in our Constitution, and all Americans will be able to marry the person they love."

The Perry case was filed on May 22, 2009 in federal District Court on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. On Feb. 7, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. On July 30, 2012, the proponents of Proposition 8 asked the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit's judgment. A request for Supreme Court review, known as a petition for a writ of certiorari, is only granted upon an affirmative vote of four justices.

The Supreme Court is expected to either grant or deny review in Perry.

Should the Court grant review, the Justices will go on to consider whether Proposition 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. If the Court denies review, the February 2012 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that struck down Proposition 8 is made permanent, ending four years of marriage inequality in California.

The Supreme Court is expected to release an Order List with its decisions on cases it has granted or denied review from its Nov. 20 conference by Monday, Nov. 26.

HRC responds

HRC President Chad Griffin, who is also the co-founder of American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which brought the Perry case challenging Prop 8, released the following statement:

"For generations, Americans have looked to the Supreme Court to uphold the fundamental tenets of our constitution and on November 20th, the court will face those questions once again for the LGBT community. Never before have the Justices confronted so many cases critical to the lives of LGBT people and our families. With truth and justice on our side, I know that we will prevail in knocking down the dark walls of discrimination known as Prop 8 and DOMA."

Lambda Legal responds

Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, issued the following statement:

"We look forward to hearing from the Supreme Court whether our challenge and/or the challenges of our sister organizations to the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act will be heard, which is the next step in the long path we have all traveled to put this discriminatory and onerous law out of its – and our – misery. So far eight courts, including two federal Courts of Appeal, have found Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. We are confident the Supreme Court, upon review of these well-reasoned decisions, will decide likewise and married same-sex couples will no longer be denied equal treatment by our federal government."

"We also look forward to the Court putting the final nail in the coffin on Prop 8. Finally, we hope the Court will reject the State of Arizona’s latest effort to strip benefits from the same-sex partners of state employees, and will allow the case to proceed to resolution."

These cases the Supreme Court will consider for review November 20 include two Lambda Legal cases; Golinski v. the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, our DOMA challenge, and Diaz v. Brewer, our Arizona benefits case. Also before the Court are three other DOMA challenges; Gill v. OPM, a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in a case brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Windsor v. United States, a ruling from the 2nd Circuit brought by the ACLU, and Pedersen v. OPM, a U.S. District Court ruling also brought by GLAD. All four rulings have found Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. The Court is also scheduled to review Hollingsworth v. Perry, the 9th Circuit ruling finding California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The Court is expected to announce on November 21st or 26th which cases it will hear.