Proponents of California’s Proposition 8 — the 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage — urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to preserve the state’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, the first of many arguments the high court will hear this year on the issue of marriage equality.
In an 83-page brief, Proposition 8′s defenders urged the court to reverse a lower court decision that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, asserting that California voters had a right to define “the vital social institution of marriage.”
“By adopting Proposition 8, the People of California demonstrated their belief that this matter is best resolved by the People themselves, not by their courts,” wrote Charles Cooper, a lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com.
“The Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the People of California — or any State — from making this choice. To the contrary, it leaves them free to do what they are doing — debating this controversial issue and seeking to resolve it in a way that will best serve their families, their children, and, ultimately their society as a whole,” he wrote.
ProtectMarriage.com, the original sponsor of Proposition 8, is defending the law because California’s elected officials have refused to do so.
The group argues that preserving traditional marriage furthers society’s “existential interests in responsible procreation and childrearing.”
“An animating purpose of marriage is to increase the likelihood that children will be born and raised in stable and enduring family units by their own mothers and fathers,” Cooper wrote. “Because relationships between persons of the same sex do not have the capacity to produce children, they do not implicate this interest in responsible procreation and childrearing in the same way.”
The Supreme Court agreed late last year to hear the Proposition 8 case, as well as a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal ban on same-sex marriage benefits.
The court has also asked for legal arguments on the question of “standing” — whether ProtectMarriage.com lawyers have a legal right to defend the same-sex marriage ban because the governor and attorney general have refused to do so. A ruling against ProtectMarriage.com would allow the court to avoid the broader legal issues surrounding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.
The high court will hear arguments March 26 in the Proposition 8 case, and the following day in the DOMA challenge.
Also on Tuesday, House Republicans urged the Supreme Court to uphold DOMA, arguing that it doesn’t interfere with a state’s right to set its own marriage laws.
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